$200K approved for Lake Tahoe invasive plant removal | SierraSun.com

$200K approved for Lake Tahoe invasive plant removal

Jack Barnwell
jbarnwell@tahoedailytribune.com

Two photos show the effect of invasive aquatic plant removal in 2013 in Emerald Bay. More work is on tap this summer there.

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The California Tahoe Conservation Board of Directors last week approved $200,000 in funding for aquatic invasive plant species removal projects.

Planned projects will be conducted at the Ski Run Marina/Channel, Lakeside Marina/Beach, Emerald Bay and the lake side of the Truckee River Dam on the North Shore.

The projects come from the CTC-funded Aquatic Invasive Species draft implementation plan, meant to find solutions to control or eliminate the 10 non-native plants and animals in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The project requires a local match, which may come from the CTC's share of Proposition 1 funding. If not, it will come another account.

Bottom barriers and diver-assisted hand and suction removal techniques will be conducted in a phased approach to remove the Eurasian milfoil weed at the four locations around Lake Tahoe.

Sudeep Chandra, Ph.D., a limnologist and associate professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, who has helped develop the AIS implementation plan, said the areas represent high-priority projects that can have eradication.

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A federally approved management plan for Lake Tahoe provided the background for the implementation plan, which was also developed by querying other agencies in the basin, quantifying the data, and bringing in seven experts from federal, state and academic backgrounds to analyze it and provide feedback.

The plan lumps invasive species into three categories: ones with feasible management and eradication options, those with potential control options but lack of scientific knowledge on how to control it, and those that have no feasible options to control at the moment.

Eurasian milfoil and curlyleaf pondweed have pervaded large swaths of the shore around the lake. Both started popping up on the radar in the mid-1990s and exploded in the late 2000s.

Chandra said the invasive plants are responsible for algae growth and act as breeding grounds for warm water fish like trout and gold fish. Boats, too, have contributed to the spread of the plant species.

Ski Run Marina, Lakeside Marina, Emerald Bay and Truckee River Dam have all been identified as priority areas.

"What we did was create a map model of the size of infestation of certain types of plant," Chandra said. "We used boat data to figure out where they were at in the lake."

Chandra stressed that data collection was necessary to better understand how invasive species spread and develop better ways to curtail or eradicate them.

"There are discrete knowledge gaps in the report that we recommend be looked at," Chandra said. As a living document, it could be updated with the most recent scientific data.

He added that the Tahoe boat inspection program has had a positive impact on screening boats that might bring in invasive species from outside of the basin.