Money set aside for Tahoe environmental projects |

Money set aside for Tahoe environmental projects

Most of the Lake Tahoe money that could be tapped to pay the bill to fight the fires that burned this summer throughout the nation will end up being spent to help protect the lake, said Ed Gee, U.S. Forest Service deputy supervisor at Lake Tahoe.

Of the $21 million at issue, $16 million is in a special account the Forest Service uses to buy environmentally sensitive lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin. It was collected under the Santini-Burton Act, which passed in 1980 and allows the proceeds from the sale of federal land near Las Vegas to be used to buy land at Tahoe.

“Sixteen million dollars will again be available to purchase land, I feel very confident of that,” Gee said.

This year, the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Unit bought more than 87 acres of sensitive land for $4.6 million.

More important, Gee said, is what happens to the rest of the money, about $5 million. Those funds are earmarked for specific Environmental Improvement Program projects at the basin.

Losing that money has delayed about 20 EIP projects, many related to watershed and vegetation management and road improvements.

“The money set aside for specific projects might require some negotiating to get back to the basin,” Gee said, “but I feel fairly confident we’ll get most, if not all, of that back.”

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