South Lake Tahoe 2009 top ten stories: 2) Protecting Lake Tahoe |

South Lake Tahoe 2009 top ten stories: 2) Protecting Lake Tahoe

Published Caption: Bonanza Photo - Jen Schmidt

While scientists discovered that Lake Tahoe’s Asian clam population had swelled to a serious threat, local agencies waged a campaign to prevent invasive species from entering the lake.

What began as a few isolated dead shells in 2002 escalated to a serious threat in 2009, as Asian clam populations continued to expand in Lake Tahoe, according to the 2009 State of the Lake report. Increased populations could leave sharp shells and rotting algae on Tahoe’s beaches, aid an infestation of invasive mussels, and affect lake clarity and ecology, according to research completed by the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center and the University of Nevada, Reno.

The density and extent of Asian clam beds in southeastern Lake Tahoe, from Zephyr Cove to El Dorado Beach, has increased drastically since 2002, when UNR researchers found three to 20 clams per square meter. Now some locations between Zephyr Point and Elk Point host 3,000 Asian clams per square meter.

In April the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency instituted fees to help fund boat inspections to prevent other invasive species from entering the lake – including quagga or zebra mussels.

From November 2008 to November 2009, the inspectors looked at about 12,800 vessels.

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