SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Starting today, divers will begin removing aquatic invasive plants in Emerald Bay, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) announced today. Control of this one and a half-acre Eurasian watermilfoil infestation in the iconic location will help protect the region’s ecosystem and water quality.
“Thanks to a coordinated and collaborative effort, when invasive plants were discovered in Emerald Bay last fall, TRPA and Tahoe Resource Conservation District were able to quickly mobilize to secure permits, funding, and contractors to attack this infestation before it grows out of control,” said TRPA’s aquatic invasive species program manager Dennis Zabaglo.
The Environmental Improvement Program (EIP) highlights the control of aquatic invasive species as a top priority for regional watershed health. A decade ago, EIP partners treated 6 acres in Emerald Bay for aquatic weeds and declared it weed-free. Now, annual surveillance efforts by contract scuba divers and a California State Parks dive team help detect any invasive weeds and trigger removal efforts to prevent species like Eurasian watermilfoil from establishing in the bay.
“This popular area attracts boaters from around the lake, and the underwater California State Park is under constant threat of reintroduction,” said Courtney Rowe, Senior Environmental Scientist with California State Parks. “When boats bring fragments of Eurasian watermilfoil from other parts of the lake, they can quickly become an infestation without ongoing monitoring and response.”
Aquatic invasive plant infestations threaten water quality, aquatic ecosystems, and recreation. Once established, they are more complicated and costly to remove, making quick response crucial for success.
Critical funding from the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act and Tahoe Fund has made it possible to quickly address this infestation.
“Lake clarity is at the center of what makes Tahoe iconic, and improving this famed clarity is a major priority for the Tahoe Fund,” said Amy Berry, CEO of the Tahoe Fund. “We were pleased to provide $50,000 for the removal of these weeds in Emerald Bay and will continue to support aquatic invasive species removal efforts that positively impact the health of our lake.”
Divers will be suctioning and hand pulling these weeds in various locations around Emerald Bay from Monday, September 11 through Friday, September 22. Agencies remind boaters to respect the 5 mph no wake zone and be mindful of contractors above and below the water for everyone’s safety.
Learn more about the project at https://eip.laketahoeinfo.org/Project/FactSheet/01.03.01.0025.
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, contact Jeff Cowen, Public Information Officer, at 775-589-5278.