Lake Tahoe, Stateline, NV – Top experts in the Western United States’ fight against aquatic invasive species are gathering at Lake Tahoe this week as the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency hosts the annual conference of the Western Regional Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species September 2-4.

The Western Regional Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species includes representatives from state, federal, and tribal agencies as well as from many academic and nonprofit entities. It was formed by a provision in the National Invasive Species Act of 1996.

“We’re grateful to Tahoe for hosting us,” said Elizabeth Brown, Chair of the Western Regional Panel and State Invasive Species Coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “It’s an amazing place, a very significant water body, so beautiful and diverse.”

The conference is bringing together nearly 100 experts who work to stop the introduction, spread, and harmful impacts of aquatic invasive species (AIS) in the Western United States. The event includes lectures and presentations about AIS issues at Lake Tahoe and in other regions, as well as field trips.

“This is an important gathering for people engaged in the fight against aquatic invaders. We are excited to showcase our invasive species program at Tahoe, learn more about how agencies are combatting AIS in other areas, and build new partnerships that will help fight AIS not only here at Tahoe but throughout the West,” said Dennis Zabaglo, Aquatic Resources Program Manager at TRPA and a member of the Western Regional Panel Executive Committee.

The Lake Tahoe AIS Program is one of the country’s most collaborative and comprehensive programs. The program is led by TRPA and 40 public, private, and nonprofit partners working together to stop the introduction and spread of AIS at Tahoe. AIS are one of Tahoe’s most serious environmental and economic threats. They can damage the ecosystem and degrade recreational experiences for the millions of people who visit Tahoe each year to enjoy its unique natural environment.

Mandatory watercraft inspections at Tahoe have successfully prevented the introduction of any new AIS since 2008. Scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno recently prepared an “Implementation Plan for the Control of AIS in Lake Tahoe.” Agencies are now using that science- and research-based policy framework to prioritize projects to control or eradicate the populations of AIS already in Tahoe, including Eurasian watermilfoil, curlyleaf pondweed, and warm water fish.

“We are excited to have national AIS leaders visiting Lake Tahoe during the Western Regional Panel and we look forward to learning from their expertise and sharing our own lessons learned here at Tahoe,” said Jesse Patterson, Deputy Director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe.

The nonprofit environmental group is a partner in the fight against aquatic invaders at Tahoe and has launched the Eyes on the Lake program that trains people to identify and then report any AIS infestations they see while out recreating on the Lake’s famously clear, blue water. “We are fortunate to have such a robust program at Lake Tahoe that is willing to try innovative approaches to managing AIS,” Patterson said.

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 Tom Lotshaw, Public Information Officer, at 775-589-5278.