Taylor, Tallac creek marsh invasive species removal underway
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Crews on Lake Tahoe’s South Shore continue work to remove aquatic invasive plants from the Taylor Creek and Tallac Creek marshes.
Part of the project area includes work at Kiva and Baldwin beaches which feed into the creeks during the spring and summer.
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit aquatics biologist Sarah Muskopf said the beaches are barrier beaches. Meaning, in the fall wind and waves will move sand to the mouth of the creeks, naturally closing them off.
During that time, the wetlands are formed. That’s where a lot of work will be done.
“It’s important to treat [invasive plants] early in the growing season,” Muskopf said.
Killing the aquatic species can be tricky because when they are broken apart, fragments easily spread and take root elsewhere. So, the benefit of treating the species when the natural barriers are there is that the fragments can’t spread into the lake.
A new fence was recently installed around the project area and officials are asking recreators to respect the protected area for safety and to ensure the greatest chance of success for the project, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency said in a press release.
The fencing is intended to protect large tarps that will be staked to the marsh bottom as part of a project to remove Eurasian watermilfoil from the marsh ecosystem, according to TRPA. The tarps are meant to starve aquatic invasive weeds of sunlight and are commonly used in the basin to control infestations.
Left unchecked, aquatic invasive plants can have devastating effects on Tahoe’s ecosystem and recreational resources. They can increase water temperatures, change the sand quality, and choke out native species while making areas more habitable for undesirable species.
While Kiva is a dog friendly beach, dogs are never allowed in the lagoon area. Part of the reason is that the lagoons are a rare, important habitat for native species such as bald eagle nests and water fowl, but also because fragments of the invasive plants can get stuck to dog paws. The dogs then take those fragments back into the lake or to other areas.
The fencing is temporary but LTBMU is currently requesting funding to build a more permanent fence.
Muskopf said the tarp is just the first step in a very complex AIS removal process.
“This summer there will be boats and divers in the lagoon which will be new to visitors of the beach,” Muskopf said.
TRPA, in partnership with the LTBMU, is implementing the aquatic invasive species removal project as part of a larger, comprehensive restoration of the marsh, according to TRPA.
Next steps include restoring hydrological characteristics of the area. That will include creating parking passes to limit the number of cars in the area and replacing creek crossing so water movement isn’t impeded.
However, Muskopf said the work they are doing now is one of the most important steps. She added that in the next three years, people should start seeing improvements in water quality.
In the meantime, she said, “hopefully people can be supportive of the process.”
To learn more, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5160954.pdf.
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