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Tahoe Regional Planning Agency approves Tahoe Keys Control Methods Test

Staff Report

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) Governing Board voted unanimously to certify the Final Environmental Impact Statement and approve the Tahoe Keys Lagoons Aquatic Weed Control Methods Test Project during its Jan. 26 meeting.

Following the Lahontan Water Quality Control Board’s January 13 unanimous vote to approve the project, TRPA’s decision clears the way for a range of proven and innovative weed control methods to be tested in targeted areas within the Tahoe Keys, located on the Lake’s south shore.

“TRPA and the Lahontan Water Board’s unanimous decisions highlight the strong scientific basis for the project’s methods, monitoring and safeguards for Tahoe’s natural environment,” said Darcie Goodman Collins, PhD, CEO of the League to Save Lake Tahoe (Keep Tahoe Blue) in a press release. “This test will provide essential information for developing a long-term strategy to address the Tahoe Keys infestation and stop its spread to Lake Tahoe.”



The Control Methods Test will use chemcial and non-chemical methods to knock-back the weeds.
Provided

Aquatic invasive species are recognized as the most pressing threat to the ecological health and beauty of Lake Tahoe. The Tahoe Keys are ground zero for the infestation of aquatic invasive weeds in the Basin, which has spread beyond the Keys’ shallow lagoons, infecting more than 100 acres of the Lake itself. The Control Methods Test was designed to identify safe, effective methods to knock back the infestation in the Keys so it can be contained, minimizing the threat to the rest of the Lake.

“Environmental study shows that continuing with the status quo, and not testing possible solutions, would result in the worst harm to Lake Tahoe’s water quality,” said Jesse Patterson, the League’s Chief Strategy Officer. “For 65 years, the League has worked to protect water quality, which means tackling the Keys’ infestation is our priority.”



For nearly a decade, the League to Save Lake Tahoe has taken a leadership role in efforts to address the invasive species problem in the Tahoe Keys, which includes helping develop, fund and implement innovative technologies.

The Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association and TRPA have dedicated years to the effort and invited the community to get involved, improving the proposed project along the way. The League is a strong supporter of the Control Methods Test, relying on the best available science, results from their pilot projects, and investigations into emerging methods to guide their position.

“We will monitor the project closely and raise a red flag if the health of the Lake or those who enjoy it is ever in question,” said Goodman Collins. “We’ll also continue using our full set of tools to keep weeds contained in the Keys, and knock back infestations that pop up in the Lake.”

However, not all agencies are in support of the CMT. Sierra Club Tahoe has been the most outspoken opponent of the test.

Following the Lahontan Water Board’s decision, Tobi Tyler, Sierra Club Tahoe Board Member told the Tribune, “The Tahoe Area Group of the Sierra Club is deeply disappointed by the Lahontan Water Board’s recent decision to permit herbicides in the Tahoe Keys. The decision violates the Basin Plan criterion for permitting herbicides, which requires that available non-chemical control methods first be proved infeasible or ineffective. Numerous comments, including retired Water Board officers who oversaw the adoption of the Basin Plan criteria, agreed with the Sierra Club that this herbicide project is not permitted by the Basin Plan.”

The CMT is set to start in Spring 2022 but could face legal action that would set the process back.

“The Sierra Club is considering how to respond to the Board’s decision,” Tyler said.

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