Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement on the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2015, which was passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Sponsored by Senator Reid, Nevada Senator Dean Heller and California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, the bill is designed to continue the ongoing effort to protect Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Basin from invasive species and devastating wildfires, while restoring Lake Tahoe’s water clarity and protecting threatened species and wildlands. Reid organized the first Lake Tahoe Summit in 1997, helped pass the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2000 and has led efforts to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to the Lake Tahoe Basin for restoration and forest work.
“Since 1997, when we held the first Lake Tahoe Summit with President Bill Clinton, we have made incredible strides in restoring the health and famed clarity of Lake Tahoe’s waters. With the passage of the first Lake Tahoe Restoration Act in 2000, we have been able to accomplish so much. Major forest restoration and fuel breaks have been completed to lessen the impact of wildfire on the lake itself and the community that surrounds it. Marshlands and wildlife habitat around the lake have been restored and improved. Pollution from stormwater and transportation that was clouding the lake’s clear blue waters has been mitigated. The Lahontan Cutthroat Trout, which had disappeared from the lake in 1939, is on its way to recovery. We have made significant progress in restoring our Jewel of the Sierras, but there is still much more that needs to be done. This bill is vital to ensuring that the work of protecting Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Basin continues uninterrupted.
“But this legislation does more than simply carry these existing programs forward. This bill focuses our investments by making science a priority, calls for better management of our public lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin and better public access to those lands, and takes aggressive action against new threats, specifically algae growth and the spread of aquatic invasive species such as quagga and zebra mussels. We have seen the threat of quagga and zebra mussels in Lake Mead in southern Nevada. Quagga mussels, which were discovered in Lake Mead for the first time in 2007, now number in the trillions. They clog water intake pipes, cover beaches with sharp shells and compete with native species for nutrients. We must do everything we can to prevent Lake Tahoe from befalling a similar fate.
“I would like to thank the coalition of people and organizations in Lake Tahoe who have proven to be a model of cooperation. The local residents, federal employees, town and county representatives, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the business community and the non-profit community in the Lake Tahoe Basin have demonstrated the impact that federal funding paired with state and local resources can have. The partnership to protect Lake Tahoe works and we should continue to invest in that partnership with this legislation. By guarding against pollution, wildfires and invasive species, we can ensure that the Jewel of the Sierras continues to be a thriving tourist destination for those who enjoy Lake Tahoe’s crystal clear waters for many years to come.”