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Environmentalists remove aquatic weeds from Emerald Bay

Environmentalists are declaring victory after a population-growth control technique successfully eradicated most, if not all, remnants of an invasive aquatic plant from part of the floor of Emerald Bay near Swim Beach. Using a similar technique to kill invasive Asian clams, a partnership of local environmental agencies installed large swathes of bottom barriers to curtail the growth of Eurasian watermilfoil in Lake Tahoe.

In June, a partnership including Tahoe Resource Conservation District, California Department of Parks and Recreation and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency placed more than 8,500 square feet of bottom barriers, according to Kim Boyd, Invasive Species manager at the conservation district.

Invasive Species Battle at Lake Tahoe Expands

Feb 13, 2010
Reporter: Associated Press
Email Address: news@kolotv.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. (AP) - Conservation officials in the Sierra Nevada are expanding their efforts to combat invasive species at Lake Tahoe to other lakes and reservoirs in the area.

The Tahoe Resource Conservation District will work with local officials and conservation groups this summer to try to keep quagga and zebra mussels out of Donner and Independence lakes as well as Stampede, Boca and Prosser Creek reservoirs.

"It's in everybody's best interest," said Dave Roberts, manager of the conservation district. "If (invasive species) get into one of those lakes, it'll be that much harder to keep them out of Tahoe."

The effort is being funded through a $231,000 grant from the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, the Reno area's water provider. The agency is trying to protect the Truckee River, the Reno area's major water source.

All boats must undergo an inspection before entering Tahoe in an effort to keep invasive mussels out of its pure, blue waters.
Roberts said while officials ultimately hope to expand boat inspections to the other lakes and reservoirs around Tahoe, many details still need to be worked out.

A series of meetings will take place throughout the spring to work out logistics of the pilot inspection program, he said.

"We thought we could take our experience in the Tahoe Basin and share it in the region, and ultimately have universal inspections," he told Truckee's Sierra Sun newspaper.

Nevada County Supervisor Ted Owens suggested one place in the Truckee area where boats would be checked, then given a sticker to show they're clean when they show up to launch at one of the area's lakes.

"I've gone through the rigors of launching a boat in the lake," Owens said. "We have to make it user-friendly, perhaps create a universal inspection point."

Roberts said the $231,000 could pay for six full-time inspectors for the summer.

"So far the inspections have been extremely well received. Locals understand the risk involved with invasive species," Roberts said.

No quagga or zebra mussels have been found in Tahoe or any other area lakes or reservoirs. But if they become established within Tahoe or elsewhere in the area, they could massively disrupt aquatic ecosystems.

One federal study says a mussel infestation could cost Tahoe's economy $22 million annual in lost tourism and property tax revenue.

Invasive Mussels Could be Costly to Tahoe Economy

Jun 24, 2009

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Lake Tahoe's economy could lose millions in taxes and tourism revenue if invasive mussels become established in the lake's famed blue waters, according to a new report.

The report prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated that the Tahoe economy could suffer an annual loss of $22 million because of lost tourism, declining property values and maintenance costs associated with the mollusks, according to a Reno Gazette-Journal story published Wednesday.

"This is just so frightening," said Allen Biaggi, director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and chairman of Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's policy board. The agency was scheduled to discuss the report's findings this week.

Quagga mussels first turned up in Lake Mead in early 2007 and have spread to other waters in southern Nevada and California. Zebra mussels were discovered in a reservoir about 250 miles from Tahoe in January 2008.

The mussels have wildlife officials around the country on alert because once they become entrenched, they multiple quickly and there's no way to get rid of them.

Experts said that if the mollusks establish themselves, they could forever alter Lake Tahoe's sensitive ecosystem, clog water intakes, encrust boats and docks and cover now-pristine beaches with sharp, smelly shells. Biaggi also said they could eventually spread down the Truckee River to Pyramid Lake north of Reno.

Lake Tahoe regulators instituted boat inspections for the mussels last summer, including mandatory checks for vessels from other areas. When boats exit the lake, a seal is fixed between the boat and trailer. If the seal is intact when the boat launches again, no new inspection is required.

Regulators imposed a fee-based program this June to ensure that inspections continue. Over the Memorial Day weekend, inspectors decontaminated six boats for invasive mussels.

Biaggi said stopping the mollusks is the agency's second priority for protecting the lake that straddles the Nevada-California line, topped only by the prevention of catastrophic wildfires.

"Anytime you get something that can't be undone, that rises to a higher level," said Phil Brozek, senior project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers. "I've heard people say it's the most important issue, maybe because it's irreparable."

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$400K invasive species program to begin in mid-March

Saturday, February 21, 2009
The Associated Press

RENO, Nev. — Scientists are preparing to wage an all-out war against another threat to Lake Tahoe's famed pure waters: Asian clams.

The quarter-sized critters have turned up in numerous locations along Tahoe's southeast shore and prompted concern that they could pave the way for even more destructive invasive species such as quagga or zebra mussels. Scuba divers will be used in a $400,000 project designed to test ways to remove the clams. The effort, jointly funded by the federal government, Nevada and California, is scheduled to begin in mid-March.

"This needs to be done. We have to get our hands around the Asian clam problem," Tahoe Regional Planning Agency spokesman Dennis Oliver told the Reno Gazette-Journal. Native to Japan, China and Korea, the clams first turned up in the U.S. in the 1930s and at Tahoe in 2001.

The clams are suspected of releasing nutrients that fueled an algae bloom around Marla Bay on Tahoe's east s hore last summer. Algae growth threatens to turn Tahoe's blue waters green. But scientists are more concerned that the clams could promote an invasion by quagga or zebra mussels - mollusks already spreading across lakes and reservoirs across much of the U.S.

Decaying clam shells could boost calcium levels that permit mussels to become established, scientists say, and trigger major problems in the lake's ecosystem. Mussels could clog water intakes, attach to docks, litter pristine beaches and spread down the Truckee River, the Reno area's major water source, scientists say.

Those fears make the Asian clam a "serious threat" that can't be ignored, said Steve Chilton, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For entire article, please visit website.

Bark beetle threat looms in the Sierra

By Jeff DeLong • Reno Gazzette-Journal• December 1, 2008

Pockets of pines in the Mount Rose area and other stretches of the Carson Range are turning brown -- a disturbing sign that an insect assault that has decimated millions of acres of forests to the east could be headed for the Sierra. Whether that occurs or not, experts say, could likely depend on this winter's weather.

"The potential is there. If we continue with this dry weather, it could pretty much take over," said Gail Durham, forest health specialist with the Nevada Division of Forestry. What could take over is the mountain pine beetle, an insect smaller than a grain of rice that has already destroyed vast swaths of timber in Colorado and other nearby states.

"That little bugger has devastated a lot of property in the Rockies and in Canada," Nevada State Forester Pete Anderson said. "The potential is real high we could have a problem in the Sierra as well."

The threat looms as Nevada has begun to recover from another beetle infestation by the pinyon ips, which killed off millions of acres of pinyon pine until the attack began to slow over the past few years, Anderson said. But other bark beetles, particularly the mountain pine beetle, are waging war against western forests. According to a 2007 report by the Council of Western State Foresters, more than 7 million acres of timber contained dead or dying trees due to beetle assault, with another 22 million acres under the threat of significant mortality over the next 15 years. This level of bark beetle-caused tree mortality is the highest in recorded history, the report said.

Evidence that the problem could be happening locally surfaced in pockets of lodgepole pines around Mount Rose, at Heavenly Mountain Resort near South Lake Tahoe and in the Little Valley area between Reno and Carson City, foresters said.

"It's still at the very beginning stages but we're watching it very closely," Anderson said. "It's pretty grim."

A healthy tree can easily fend off attacks by a few beetles by secreting resin and essentially booting the bugs out of its bark. But when trees are unhealthy in overcrowded stands, particularly when stressed by drought, their defense mechanisms are weakened.

Tahoe Keys a center for recreation — and controversy

Adam Jensen, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Few construction projects in the Lake Tahoe Basin highlight the often-conflicting interests of development and environmental protection quite like the Tahoe Keys. Built in the late 1950s and early ’60s, the 740-acre development at the mouth of the Upper Truckee River has alternately been seen as an appealing place to live and an environmental disaster.

An estimated 5 million cubic yards of material were dredged from the marsh at the mouth of the river to create the fingers of land interlaced with 11 miles of backyard waterways that make up the Keys. The effort destroyed much of the river’s marsh and removed a major filtration system from Lake Tahoe’s largest tributary, identified by the Lahontan Water Board as a major source of fine sediment that reduces the clarity of the lake.

The draw of the development is undeniable, and marketing for the neighborhood has changed little over the past four decades.

“Most of the 1,539 members who own homes, townhouses or vacant lots have a private boat dock and are located on numerous lagoons, canals or the Tahoe Keys Marina with its boat-launching ramps,” according to the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association. “Waterfront living provides direct access to Lake Tahoe and its many watersports. At Tahoe Keys, we enjoy breathtaking views of the lake and mountains, and enjoy amenities like tennis, indoor and outdoor pools, spa and more.”

While the attraction of living in the Keys has remained the same, the development more recently has faced a new set of environmental issues, including the fight against the introduction of aquatic invasive species into Lake Tahoe.

Eurasian watermilfoil was discovered in the Keys in the 1980s and, despite efforts to remove it, has spread to numerous locations around the lake. Researchers also have indicated the Keys area is the likely introduction point for a growing population of warmwater fish species around the lake.

For entire article, please visit website below.

Source of illegal clawed frogs found, officials say

Tahoe Daily Tribune, Staff report
September 11, 2008

Photo provided by NDOWGame wardens with the Nevada Department of Wildlife have tracked down what they say is a source of prohibited African clawed frogs found throughout Nevada over the past few weeks, seizing 68 more frogs from homes across the state.

The company accused of sending the frogs, Florida-based Growafrog.com, paid a $3,600 fine Tuesday and agreed not to ship any more illegal frogs to Nevada, according to a statement Wednesday from NDOW. Cooperating with the state's investigation, the company provided customer records to NDOW, allowing game wardens to contact people who unknowingly purchased the frogs over the Internet, the agency said.

Growafrog.com sells tadpole kits intended for educational purposes, according to its Web site.

The president of the company, Paul Rudnick, said he was aware that the frogs are illegal in Nevada, but a mistake was made at their facility, according to the statement.

The frogs are illegal in many Western states but are legal in some states, including Florida, where the company is based, according to Cameron Waithman, the game warden captain leading the investigation.

Game wardens started the investigation last month with the seizure of 119 African clawed frogs from three Reno homes. The publicity surrounding the case prompted other people around Nevada to call NDOW to turn in illegal frogs. These calls allowed game wardens to track the source back to Growafrog.com and ultimately the seizure of 187 illegal frogs, NDOW stated.

Game wardens received calls and seized frogs in at least seven counties in Nevada, according to Waithman.

"I have been amazed at the level of cooperation we have gotten from citizens across the state," Waithman said in the statement. "People seemed to really understand the danger these frogs pose to our ecosystem and were very cooperative in turning them over to game wardens."

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Mussel found on boat hull at South Lake Tahoe

By Jeff DeLong • jdelong@rgj.com • August 28, 2008

A boat encrusted with invasive mussels and about to be launched into Lake Tahoe was stopped in what officials describe as a first-of-its-kind close call. The harbor master at South Lake Tahoe's Tahoe Keys Marina first saw mussels on the stern of a 32-foot cabin cruiser as it was about to be hoisted into the water Friday.

Experts later confirmed the mollusks were quagga mussels, which apparently attached to the vessel while in Lake Mead in late July, said Ted Thayer, natural resource and science team leader for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The boat remains under quarantine as ordered by wardens with the California Department of Fish and Game.

"This is the first one we've actually found that actually had mussels on it," said Jenny Francis of the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, which is leading inspection efforts at the lake.

The incident, Thayer said, makes clear the danger posed by mussel-infested boats and the importance of mounting a program to detect any before they are put into the lake.

"This tells us boats do come from Mead and there may be live mussels on board," Thayer said. "It is both scary and encouraging at the same time."

The vessel owner said it was decontaminated when it left Lake Mead. The area where the mussels were found were near the boat's out-drive sprayed with hot water, Thayer said. That, combined with the time the vessel was out of the water, could mean the mussels were dead when discovered at the Tahoe Keys.

"They could have already been dead, but we decided: better safe than sorry," Thayer said of the decision to put the boat under quarantine. Biologists plan to recheck the vessel Sept. 3 to ensure it is clean and can be released to its owner, he said.

Quagga mussels, previously found only in the Midwest and Northeast, were first discovered in Lake Mead in early 2007 and have since spread to other parts of Nevada, Arizona and Southern California. In January, zebra mussels -- a close cousin of the quagga -- turned up in a California reservoir 250 miles from Lake Tahoe. Both types of mussels could cause widespread problems if they were to become established in Lake Tahoe. The rapidly reproducing mollusks could quickly disrupt the lake's ecosystem, clog drinking water intakes, encrust boats, foul docks and litter beaches with sharp and stinking shells.

In June, the TRPA board approved regulations requiring mandatory inspections of boats being launched into the lake in effort to prevent introduction of mussels.

Washoe Weeds Management Group

The Truckee Meadows Weed Coordinating Group is a cooperative weed management group that was formed in 2003 to help federal, state, and local agencies and concerned residents fight weeds in Reno, Sparks, and southern Washoe County, Nevada. Invasive weeds affect us all - as homeowners, taxpayers, consumers, tourists, and land managers.

Linda Nelson is a good contact, from Washoe County: 823-6511

Beware of invasive species

By Bruce Ajari
Special to the Bonanza
February 29, 2008

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) recently released a press release regarding its great concern for the New Zealand Mud Snail (NZMS). It is an invasive species that was first found in the Owens River in Mono County in 2000.
Since that time the tiny invasive snails have been confirmed in numerous other waters within California. According to DFG Invasive Species Coordinator, Susan R. Ellis, “New Zealand mud snails are just one of the many non-native invasive species that are impacting our natural resources.”

The DFG is appealing to the general public to help prevent further spread of the snails. Anglers and others who frequent California waters are asked to thoroughly clean all gear that comes in contact with the water, prior to moving to another location. In addition, individuals who are visiting state fish hatcheries should be careful to remove waders that have been in contact with affected waters before entering hatchery grounds.

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