Discussion begins on invasive species program for Tahoe’s surrounding reservoirs
February 11, 2010
TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Lake Tahoe may be unique, but an island it is not.
That’s the thinking behind the Tahoe Resource Conservation District’s latest idea to expand its fight against invasive species to neighboring lakes like Donner, Independence, Stampede, Boca and Prosser Creek Reservoir.
and#8220;It’s in everybody’s best interest,and#8221; said Dave Roberts, district manager for the conservation district. and#8220;If (invasive species) get into one of those lakes, it’ll be that much harder to keep them out of Tahoe.and#8221;
Working with $231,000 from the Truckee Meadow Water Authority’s Truckee River Fund, the conservation district will work with local government, law enforcement and conservation groups to keep quagga and zebra mussels out of area lakes and reservoirs.
Roberts and Kim Boyd of the conservation district met with Nevada County Supervisor Ted Owens, Nevada County Resource Conservation District Manager Lesa Osterholm and Nevada County Agricultural Commissioner Jeff Pylman last week to talk about a pilot program for the coming summer.
and#8220;We thought we could take our experience in the Tahoe Basin and share it in the region, and ultimately have universal inspections,and#8221; Roberts said.
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But a lot has to be figured out between now and the summer boating season as to what that will look like in the Truckee area, Owens said, with five potential lakes to inspect boats, instead of just one big one.
Owens suggested one place in the Truckee area where boats would be checked, then given a sticker or band to show they’re clean when they show up to a launch at one of the area’s lakes.
and#8220;I’ve gone through the rigors of launching a boat in the lake (Tahoe… ,and#8221; Owens said. and#8220;We have to make it user-friendly, perhaps create a universal inspection point.and#8221;
A series of meetings will take place throughout the spring, Roberts said, working out the logistics of the pilot inspection program.
Roberts said the $231,000 from the Truckee River Fund could pay for six full-time inspectors for the summer.
The inspections could start off as voluntary, he said, but would need an ordinance on the books to have force-of-law down the road.
and#8220;So far the inspections have been extremely-well received; locals understand the risk involved with invasive species,and#8221; Roberts said.
And that education is key, Boyd said.
and#8220;Part of this is knowing where the high-risk bodies of water are, and how to clean, drain and dry your boat,and#8221; Boyd said.
In Lake Mead, the invasive mussels are doing ecological damage and#8212; threatening bass population, making maintenance more expensive and even sinking buoys under their collective weight, Roberts said.
Owens said inspections can be inconvenient, but are quickly becoming more and more important.
and#8220;If you want to enjoy the water the way we do today, unfortunately, this is where we are,and#8221; Owens said. and#8220;I think it’s the right thing to do and I think we have the right community to get behind it in Truckee.and#8221;
According to previous reports, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency feels inspections at other surrounding lakes could keep Tahoe safe from invasive species. According to a federal study, a mussel infestation could cost Tahoe’s economy $22 million annual in lost tourism and property tax revenue.