Invasive Species Plan, Boat Inspection Funding Approved

Lake Tahoe, Stateline, NV – The federal Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force in Washington, D.C., recently approved a five-year revision to the Lake Tahoe Region Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan, calling it a model for the nation.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management is providing another $750,000 through the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help fund Lake Tahoe’s robust boat inspection program through at least 2015, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency announced Thursday.

“Lake Tahoe has one of the best aquatic invasive species plans in the United States,” said Donald Maclean, a biologist at the headquarters office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Tahoe’s plan will serve as a model nationwide moving forward.”

The management plan guides collaborative efforts to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species at Lake Tahoe, where they could have devastating environmental and economic impacts. Chief among those efforts are boat inspections that were facing a major funding shortfall as soon as next year.

Approximately half of the funding for the boat inspection program comes from inspection fees paid by boaters. To date, the remainder of funding has come from the Bureau of Land Management, through the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act. This $750,000 was not expected to be made available for Lake Tahoe’s boat inspection program next year, but will be made available at least one more time, federal officials announced this week.

“It’s gap funding while we work on securing a new sustainable source of funding for the long-term operation of this boat inspection program, which is the cornerstone of what we do to protect Lake Tahoe from new invaders,” said Joanne Marchetta, executive director of TRPA.

Since 2009, Lake Tahoe’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program has completed more than 37,000 watercraft inspections and more than 18,000 decontaminations. Boaters are asked to help protect the Lake by showing up at inspection stations with their watercraft already “Cleaned, Drained, and Dry.”

The Lake Tahoe Region Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan framework remains largely unchanged through the revision.

One major goal was to keep the plan strong enough to guide the aquatic invasive species program but also make it flexible enough to adapt to new science and changing environmental conditions. For example, the revision moves detailed program information into the plan’s appendices, where the TRPA and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can update it without completing a major revision. Other changes include:

·         Updates to reflect current watercraft inspection protocols, procedures and locations, as well as ongoing control efforts, lessons learned, and strategies;

·         Updates to the list of aquatic invasive species of concern;

·         More detailed information about the invasive species in Lake Tahoe and species that pose a threat, as well as the various control options for these species;

·         And additional information about monitoring and response plans, including rapid response plans.

Preventing the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species at Lake Tahoe is a top priority for TRPA and partner agencies. The first Lake Tahoe Region Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan was created in 2009 and signed by the governors of California and Nevada and the TRPA executive director.

The Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species and Watercraft Inspection Programs are implemented by 40 public and private partner organizations including federal, state and local jurisdictions, research partners, public utility districts, and private marinas. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Tahoe Resource Conservation District lead the inspection program through the collaborative framework of the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinating Committee chaired by TRPA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Committee provides the leadership, direction, and resources to fulfill this program’s mission of prevention, detection and control of aquatic invasive species in the Lake Tahoe Region.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency leads the cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, while improving local communities, and people’s interactions with our irreplaceable environment. For additional information, call Tom Lotshaw, Public Information Officer, at 775-589-5278.

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