$415 million Lake Tahoe Restoration Act heads for Senate vote | SierraSun.com

$415 million Lake Tahoe Restoration Act heads for Senate vote

Staff report

LAKE TAHOE — The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2015 is headed for a vote in the U.S. Senate after it passed out of committee this week.

The measure designed to provide $415 million to Tahoe Basin projects during the next decade is sponsored by Nevada Sens. Harry Reid and Dean Heller as well as California Sens. Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

The largest single piece of the funding, $150 million, is earmarked for programs that reduce the risk of forest fires and for forest management including major fuel reduction projects.

Reid said since the first Tahoe Summit in 1997, "we have made incredible strides in restoring the health and famed clarity of Lake Tahoe's waters."

He sponsored the first Tahoe Restoration Act in 2000.

But Reid said the new 2015 bill (S. 1724) does more than just extend existing programs into the future. He said it focuses funding on better management of basin lands and takes aggressive action against new threats such as algae growth and invasive species like the quagga and zebra mussels.

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Heller described committee passage of the measure as "a big step toward combating the numerous threats that take a toll on the Tahoe Basin."

He promised to work with Nevada and California delegations in both the Senate and House to resolve differences between the two versions of the new Tahoe Restoration Act. He said the goal is to, "enact a bill that helps conserve the basin's beauty for generations to come."

In addition to the $150 million for fire risk reduction, the bill includes:

$80 million for environmental projects including new bike trails, to creek restoration.

$45 million for invasive species management including a watercraft inspection program.

$113 million for storm water management, erosion controls and watershed restoration projects.

$20 million to continue and expand the program to recover the Lahontan Cuttroat Trout in the basin.

$5 million for improved accountability and oversight to ensure projects make good use of the money in the bill.

$2 million for land exchanges and sales in the basin to improve public land management.

An easy way to read the full bill is at this website — govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/s1724 — where you can also follow its progress.