Nevada senator announces over $3 million to prevent, combat invasive species in Lake Tahoe

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) announced $3.1 million in funding she secured for Lake Tahoe in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to prevent and combat the spread of aquatic invasive species in the lake through the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Program, her office said in a press release. 

These funds secured from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will support existing cooperative agreements with the Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and augment a historic effort to restore the Lake Tahoe Basin ecosystem. 

“We are very proud to continue supporting the vital collaborations with local partners and Tribal leaders in Lake Tahoe, the world’s tenth deepest lake and one of the clearest and most spectacular bodies of water on the planet,” said Service Pacific Southwest Regional Director Paul Souza in a press release. “This significant investment will move us a step closer towards the restoration of one of California’s natural treasures, for the benefit of Lahontan cutthroat trout and other native species.” 

In 2020, Senator Cortez Masto also created the Invasive Species in Alpine Lakes Pilot Program to protect lakes like Lake Tahoe.

“Lake Tahoe is the jewel of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the funding I’ve fought for will help make sure it is protected for generations to come,” said Senator Cortez Masto in a press release. “Invasive plants like watermilfoil are already threatening the lake, and this funding will help stop spread of invasive species that would be devastating for Tahoe’s fragile ecosystems.”

The Lake Tahoe Basin is currently threatened by the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species. Common invasive weeds, like the Eurasian watermilfoil, can significantly disrupt aquatic ecosystems and crowd out native species. For 15 years, Environmental Improvement Program partners have worked together to stop the spread of these invasive species and prevent new aquatic invasive species from entering Lake Tahoe.  

In 2022, nearly 17 acres of benthic barriers were installed in Taylor and Tallac creeks and marshes to help smother invasive aquatic plants and prevent photosynthesis by blocking sunlight. To advance these efforts, the Service is working with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the multi-partner Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinating Committee to identify priority areas for funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including permanent watercraft inspection stations to aid in preventing the spread of invasive aquatic species. Under the Environmental Improvement Program, Lake Tahoe watercraft inspectors have examined more than 100,000 boats since 2008. In that time, no new invasive species have been detected in the Tahoe region.  

Senator Cortez Masto has been a champion for Lake Tahoe, leading efforts in the Senate to conserve the region and protect the Lake. She secured nearly $17 million in funding for the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, in addition to critical resources to address microplastic pollution in the Lake and to improve transportation options to and from Reno. She has led calls for a comprehensive, collaborative, and science-based approach to protect Lake Tahoe and other water resources in Nevada from the threat of climate change. Cortez Masto helped pass the historic Great American Outdoors Act, which was signed into law and provides robust funding to repair and maintain public lands across the country. 

“This support for Lake Tahoe’s protection couldn’t be more timely as climate change continues to stress our sensitive ecosystem and increase the threat that aquatic invasive species pose to the lake and recreation,” said Julie Regan, executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency which oversees the Lake Tahoe Invasive Species Program. “These funds will help strengthen both our prevention and control work with our partners while also expanding our reach through bilingual education to paddlers and other non-motorized recreators.”

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