Tahoe Basin receives $3.2 million from Prop 68 for restoration | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Basin receives $3.2 million from Prop 68 for restoration

Hannah Jones
hjones@sierrasun.com

Last month Proposition 68 was approved by 56 percent of California voters, authorizing the state to borrow $4.1 billion for investments in water conservation projects, land conservation and outdoor recreation.

With more than 60 percent of California's water supply flowing from the Sierra Nevada, the California Tahoe Conservancy, which heads conservation and restoration projects in the Tahoe Basin, will now receive $27 million under Prop 68.

In addition, $25 million will be allocated to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to projects related to climate adaptation and resiliency under the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program, according to the organization's website.

"This is pretty big," said Jane Freeman, deputy director of the California Tahoe Conservancy. "Our budget is highly dependent on bonds and initiatives."

RECREATION & PRESERVATION

While the act is fairly broad with regards to how the money needs to be spent, Freeman said that its main focus is on outdoor recreation and preservation of parks.

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"Because this is a parks bond, there is quite a bit of focus on getting people outdoors," she said.

The conservancy has worked with a number of different agencies in the Tahoe Basin to complete public access projects including local county governments, the U.S. Forest Service and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. With funding provided by Prop 68 Freeman said the agency can begin planning for other projects starting with restoration on the upper Truckee River Marsh.

Freeman said the California Tahoe Conservancy will be allocating $3.2 million from the proposition to restore 500 acres of floodplain marsh on the upper Truckee River. Planning for the project began in the 1990s and aims to restore natural river processes and water quality, enhance natural aquatic habitats and create public access opportunities for the site.

Construction on the project is expected to start next summer.

In 2014, California Proposition 1 was approved, authorizing $7.12 billion in general obligation bonds for water supply infrastructure projects. Of that the conservancy received $15 million which was used for watershed and sustainability projects. With Prop 68, the organization will be able to focus on a larger variety of outdoor recreation and restoration projects.

WHERE THE MONEY GOES

Prop 68 funding will be provided in three main categories, with about two-thirds going to parks and wildlife, and one-third going towards water conservation and flood protection. According to the Proposition 68 website, the money will be allocated as follows.

Water conservation

$540 million to ensure clean drinking water

$180 million to groundwater cleanup and water recycling

$550 million to flood protection

$367 million to rivers, lakes, and streams protection and restoration

Parks and recreation

$725 million to neighborhood parks in greatest need of restoration

$285 million to safer and cleaner park facilities in cities, counties, and local park districts

$218 million to repair and improve state parks

$95 million to promote recreation and tourism

Natural Resources

$765 million for conserving and protecting natural areas

$235 million to protect beaches, oceans and the coast

$140 million for climate change resiliency

Statewide, there are 280 state parks which all have a maintenance backlog estimate at $1.2 billion. In the 1980s, California State Parks began to put off maintenance on basic repair projects such as bathrooms, rooftops, fences and trails due to underfunding of the state park's budget. With deferred maintenance from the past three decades, some of the measure's money will go towards reducing that backlog.

In addition to these funds, the Water Supply and Quality Act, scheduled for the Nov. 6 election would supply $100 million to the region.

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or hjones@sierasun.com.