Public, private, nonprofit partners team up to spread awareness about Tahoe aquatic invasive species
TAHOE CITY, Calif. – With summer arriving to Tahoe, residents and visitors are looking forward to spending time on the Lake’s sparkling blue waters. To protect that treasured experience and the Lake’s water quality, public, private and nonprofit partners have come together to inform recreators about the threat of aquatic invasive species – harmful, non-native plants and animals. Without a watchful eye and preventative action, invasive species could proliferate, turning those blue waters a murky green.
Before boating season gets into full swing, the League to Save Lake Tahoe (or Keep Tahoe Blue) hosted an all-encompassing training course for the people working where the public meets the Lake – at marinas and boat ramps – so key information about aquatic invasive species can be shared with recreators.
The training took place at Tahoe’s largest and busiest marina. The Tahoe Keys Marina is adjacent, but not connected to the Tahoe Keys lagoons, the site of an ongoing, comprehensive test to address the Lake’s largest infestation of aquatic weeds. This summer, for the first time, the marina will host an effort, including novel technologies, to contain aquatic invasive weeds from escaping into the Lake proper. The project is thanks to the combined work of the League, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the new owners of the Tahoe Keys Marina.
“To Keep Tahoe Blue, it’s crucial that our staff can identify and report invasive species, and that they can help our customers do the same,” said Katie Linton, general manager of the Tahoe Keys Marina. “When the public is in a marina like ours, it’s a huge opportunity to provide them information on the threat and how they can be part of the solution. The Tahoe Keys Marina is happy to do our part in collaboration with the League to Save Lake Tahoe.”
Everyone at Tahoe is encouraged to pitch in to keep aquatic invasive species in check. Throughout the summer, the League offers regular educational trainings – in person, virtual and on-demand – as part of its Eyes on the Lake program. Participants learn how to identify and then report aquatic invaders through the free Citizen Science Tahoe app, developed in tandem with the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. Each report could prevent a new aquatic invasive species infestation, just as they’ve done eight times in the recent past.
What is at stake is Lake Tahoe’s environmental health and beauty.
“Emerald Bay is one of the crown jewels of our State Parks,” said Courtney Rowe, senior environmental scientist for California State Parks’ Sierra District. “Collaboration with our Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinating Committee partners, like the League to Save Lake Tahoe, to raise awareness and help citizen scientists identify aquatic invasive threats is integral to protecting the clarity of this amazing bay.”
Aquatic invasive species can enter the Lake from anywhere by stowing away on a boat, kayak, paddle board, any other watercraft or gear. Public awareness and easy-to-use tools are critical to prevent harmful infestations. The Eyes on the Lake program and Citizen Science Tahoe app are complementary to the Lake Tahoe Boat Inspection program, which every year inspects thousands of boats and prevents invasive species from infecting the Lake. These are all components of the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Program, led by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Tahoe Resource Conservation District.
“Whether you have five minutes to spare or five hours, there’s an opportunity for you to Keep Tahoe Blue,” said Jesse Patterson, chief strategy officer for the League to Save Lake Tahoe. “While you’re paddling, boating or walking the shoreline, you can also protect it from invasive species.”
You can get involved by signing up for a virtual or in-person Eyes on the Lake training at keeptahoeblue.org/events, and by using the free Citizen Science Tahoe app available at citizensciencetahoe.com.
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