Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein today announced that the Senate passed the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, a bill to restore Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Basin and protect the region from a number of imminent threats. The legislation, cosponsored by Senators Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), was included as part of the Water Resources Development Act.
The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act continues the federal commitment to Lake Tahoe by authorizing $415 million over 10 years to improve Lake Tahoe’s water clarity, reduce risks from catastrophic wildfires, combat invasive species and restore and protect the environment in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
“The public-private partnership born out of the original Lake Tahoe bill has invested $1.9 billion over the past 20 years to complete more than 500 conservation and preservation projects around the lake, with another 120 more underway,” Senator Feinstein said. “Despite that success, there are still many issues threating the future health of the lake. For instance, scientists from the Tahoe Environmental Research Center at UC-Davis recently announced that Lake Tahoe is warming faster than any large lake in the world due to climate change. This red flag reminds us why additional funding is vital to preserve the pristine nature of Lake Tahoe.
“I’m pleased the Senate passed our bipartisan bill to address the challenges climate change poses and other issues facing the lake. I look forward to its passage in the House of Representatives so the federal government maintains its commitment to preserving the Jewel of the Sierras.”
The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act directs $415 million to be spent in the Tahoe Basin over the next 10 years towards:
- Wildfire Prevention: Provides $150 million for fire risk reduction and forest management. These dollars go toward fuel reduction projects in high risk areas like South Shore, Carnelian Bay, Incline, and West shore stewardship contracts to restore forest health and wildlife habitat and municipal water infrastructure to support improved flows for firefighting.
- The Environmental Improvement Program (EIP): Provides $80 million to jumpstart projects spanning from new bike trails to creek restoration and fire treatment. Some previous EIP projects that have benefited the region include the Heavenly Gondola and Village, the Angora Fire rehabilitation, Lake View Commons, the Sand Harbor Visitor Center and the Incline Creek Restoration.
- The Invasive Species Management Program: Provides $45 million to prevent the introduction of the quagga mussel and manage other harmful invasive species like the Asian clam. This includes lake-wide aquatic invasive species control and a watercraft inspection program.
- Storm water Projects: Sets aside $113 million to implement storm water management, erosion control and watershed restoration projects. Storm water runoff from roads and the urban areas in the basin, vehicle exhaust, altered wetlands and streams and inadequate storm water pollution control have significantly impacted Lake Tahoe’s famous clarity.
- The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Recovery Program: Allocates $20 million to recover the Lahontan cutthroat trout – a federally threatened species and Nevada’s state fish.
- Increases Accountability and Oversight: Provides $5 million to ensure projects will have monitoring and assessment in order to determine the most cost-effective projects and ensure dollars are properly utilized.
- Overall Management Improvement: Sets aside $2 million to cover the cost of land exchanges and sales on both the California and Nevada sides of the Tahoe Basin that will improve efficiencies of public land management.