Nevada Lake Tahoe oversight committee urges spending millions

Geoff Dornan / Nevada Appeal
A view of Lake Tahoe from Sand Harbor State Park.
Bill Rozak/Tahoe Daily Tribune

The Joint Interim Committee for Oversight of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Marlette Lake on Wednesday approved a long list of recommendations that would pump millions into environmental, transportation and other projects in the Tahoe Basin.

The vote was unanimous among Senate and Assembly members, including Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Douglas, despite his concern that money not be used for studies but actual projects.

Witnesses, including Jim Lawrence, acting director of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and Carl Hasty, head of the Tahoe Transportation District, assured him the goal is projects on the ground.

Lawrence said the funding plan uses a variety of sources that will vary among the different governments involved, depending on where they can produce their share of the cash.

Settelmeyer said he also was concerned the money go for one-time projects, not into ongoing costs that might not be affordable in the future.

The biggest funding item on the list is urging the state congressional delegation to convince Congress to pass the Lake Tahoe Restoration Reauthorization Act. Funding through that act has provided some $80 million since 2016 to reduce hazardous fuels, pay for large-scale wetland restoration, aquatic invasive species control and other projects. The legislation to reauthorize the act will extend it through 2034, providing millions more each year for Tahoe Basin projects.

That is followed by the request for the state of Nevada to issue General Obligation bonds totaling $13 million in the coming biennium for the Tahoe Environmental Improvements program.

Members voted to ask the state for $5 million in bonds to develop and construct the Lake Tahoe Path system to complete the Sand Harbor State Park to Spooner Summit portion of the East Shore Trail.

The committee urged support for the Lake Tahoe Transportation Action Plan to accelerate transportation projects in the basin. The action plan outlines priority projects and a funding strategy to provide a minimum $20 million a year over the next 20 years.

The committee urged Gov. Steve Sisolak to support a $2.5 million General Fund appropriation each year of the coming biennium for Nevada’s share of the transportation action plan. Members said that would accelerate implementation of transportation projects in the basin using a funding strategy that includes local, private, state and federal partners to generate $7 million apiece annually in local and private money and Nevada and California money.

They requested Sisolak include in his budget $733,000 each fiscal year to pay Nevada’s one-third share of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s operating budget. California pays the other two-thirds.

The committee voted to ask Sisolak to include $330,000 in General Fund money each year to augment the TRPA budget to hire staff to operate public transit in the basin.

Finally, the committee asked for General Fund money of up to $240,000 a year to the Parks Division to operate Sand Harbor and the East Shore Express that provides shuttle service from Incline Village to Sand Harbor.

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