World renowned for its crystal clear, azure water, Lake Tahoe
straddles the Nevada-California border. However, the lake’s
clarity has declined in the last 40 years due to accumulated
effects of development.
At 1,645 feet, Lake Tahoe is the second deepest lake in the
United States and the 10th deepest in the world. Lake Tahoe sits
6,225 feet above sea level, and is 22 miles long and 12 miles
Approximately 40 percent of the Tahoe Basin’s rain and snow fall
directly into the lake, contributing to Lake Tahoe’s legendary
clarity. The remaining precipitation drains through granitic
soils, which are relatively sterile and create a good filtering
The lake’s vitality is threatened by several factors
including invasive species (trout and bass), stormwater
runoff and increasing temperatures as a part of ongoing climate
change. Meanwhile, drought conditions have led the lake to be the
driest it has been in a century.
The Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association and its partners are
hosting the first in a series of in-person workshops to discuss
potential solutions to the spread of aquatic weeds that
threaten all of Lake Tahoe. A proposed permit for an aquatic
weeds control methods test (National Pollutant Discharge
Elimination System) is currently under consideration before the
Lahontan Water Board.
Pyramid Lake was a vital fishery for thousands of years, but
the tribe had no legal rights to Truckee River water until 1908
when the U.S. Supreme Court determined that when the federal
government established Indian reservations it implicitly
reserved sufficient land and water to serve its purpose and
that non-Indians could not interfere with a tribe’s reserved
water. The precedent-setting decision also recognized prior
appropriation rights for Western tribes.The court’s opinion
gave the Paiute the most senior claims on Truckee River dating
back to 1859 when land for the Pyramid Lake Indian
Reservation was first set aside.
The annual Truckee River Cleanup Day set for September 25, 2021
is a 17 year-old beautification tradition. Every year, the
nonprofit organization Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB)
organizes hundreds of volunteers who, in a four-hour period,
remove trash, erase graffiti, and stencil a warning on storm
drains along a 20-mile stretch of the river, from Verdi to
Lockwood. Last year, in one day, some 500 volunteers
removed over 35 tons of trash and green waste from the Truckee
River Watershed. … But trash is only one environmental
threat to the Truckee.
President Theodore Roosevelt wanted to see quick action on the
new federal irrigation bill. Prior to 1902, private landowners
perfected water rights to the Truckee and Carson rivers in
accordance with Nevada law (“perfected” meaning that permitted
water satisfied the Beneficial Use requirement as described in
Part IV of the series). … The Bureau of
Reclamation’s strong hand and bold plans concerning the
appropriation of Lake Tahoe water and other California
hydrological resources for aggressive agricultural expansion in
Nevada (the driest state in the nation) enraged California’s
residents and politicians.
California is again the center of the nation’s biggest and most
destructive wildfires. Over 2 million acres have burned, with
the enormous Dixie and Caldor fires (more than 917,000 and more
than 216,000 acres, respectively) accounting for more than half
of this acreage. More than 3,050 structures have been damaged
or destroyed, and over 14,000 firefighters are battling blazes
in the state. …The entirety of the state remains in drought,
with 88 percent in extreme to exceptional drought, the two
Jesse Patterson, of Keep Tahoe Blue, said the organization is
funding research into the effects of the Caldor Fire on Lake
Tahoe. “It’s going to look very different. Huge areas are burnt
down, a burn scar — there can be runoff now from those areas
that use to be protected by the trees. Now, those trees are
gone and that runoff can come from the land and affect the
lakes,” Patterson said. Dr. Geoffrey Schladow, professor
of Water Resources and Environmental Engineering at UC Davis,
said ash is a problem too. When ash bleeds into the lake, it
turns into nutrients that cause algae blooms.
On Monday morning, the Caldor fire had been 44% contained, the
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said,
nearly double what the agency reported Thursday. Authorities
said lower temperatures, slowing winds and rises in humidity
allowed firefighters to take advantage of the slowed pace of
the wildfire to focus on mitigation efforts to keep the blaze
from spreading further.
The Caldor fire has triggered mass evacuations in two
states, torched hundreds of homes, made the air hazardous to
breathe and spurred President Biden to issue an emergency
declaration. But the erratic wildfire is also causing
another problem for Lake Tahoe: Smoke and ash particles are
entering the lake and clouding its world-famous crystal blue
California’s wildfire season started early again this year and
its destruction already for the record books with the Dixie
fire currently the second largest in the state’s history and
growing while the Caldor fire has caused the evacuation of
residents from the iconic South Lake Tahoe communities.
Here, Stanford Law School’s Professor Buzz Thompson, one of the
country’s leading water law experts, discusses California’s
wildfires, drought, water, and climate change with Stanford
Legal on SiriusXM co-hosts Professors Joseph Bankman and
Richard Thompson Ford.
Across the West, megafires are no longer uncommon, and
unprecedented fire behavior is no longer unexpected. Welcome to
the California of climate change, where the new normal is
extreme weather and terrifying consequences. Already, the 2021
fire season has confounded expectations. Before this year, no
fire was known to have burned from one side of the Sierra
Nevada to the other. Now it’s happened twice — with the Dixie
fire in the northern Sierra and now the Caldor fire near Lake
In January 1900, Nevada Congressman Francis Newlands sponsored
a measure for the federal government to provide water for
irrigation in arid regions throughout the western United
States. The bill ran into resistance from politicians concerned
about giving up state control of water to the federal
government, but ultimately the most contentious issues were
resolved and the law passed.
They sent thousands of firefighters, 25 helicopters and an
arsenal of more than 400 fire engines and 70 water trucks. Yet
the fire still advanced…. The blazes in Sierra forests have
exposed the domino effects of climate change on firefighting
challenges: Frequent heat waves and overall higher temperatures
have desiccated West Coast flora, making it more vulnerable to
large fires. Droughts have weakened trees, encouraging insect
infestations that have contributed to the deaths of close
to 150 million trees. This creates more fuel for fires.
Smoke and ash from wildfires near Lake Tahoe — one of the
deepest lakes in the world — is already clouding the lake’s
famously clear water, researchers say. While the long-term
effects are unclear, ash and soot are now coating the surface
of the High Sierra lake and veiling the sun, which can disrupt
the lake’s ecosystem and its clarity. More debris and sediment
are likely to wash into the lake from runoff and rain this fall
Fire officials ordered more evacuations around the Tahoe Basin
Sunday evening as crews dealt with a two-week old blaze they
said was “more aggressive than anticipated,” and continued to
edge toward the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe. … Flames
churned through mountains just a few miles southwest of the
Tahoe Basin, where thick smoke sent tourists packing at a time
when summer vacations would usually be in full swing ahead of
the Labor Day weekend.
A California appeals court has blocked the expansion of Lake
Tahoe’s famed Squaw Valley ski resort because the development
plan fails to adequately address potential harm to air and
water quality, as well as increased noise levels and traffic in
the area. A three-judge panel of California’s Third District
Court of Appeals granted parts of two appeals brought by Sierra
The growing threat of catastrophic wildfires blazing across the
West and the resulting detrimental effects, such as hazardous
air quality, were top of mind for Nevada and California leaders
gathered on a slightly hazy shore Thursday morning for the 25th
annual Lake Tahoe Summit. Before speakers launched into
remarks on climate change, wildfires, infrastructure and
legislation aimed at preserving the popular year-round tourist
destination, Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California Chairman
Serrell Smokey began with a prayer.
A sewage spill into Lake Tahoe was prevented this past
weekend. South Tahoe Public Utility District received a
call regarding a foul odor coming from the beach by Valhalla
boat house. Upon arriving on scene, crews discovered that
the sewer main had backed up causing a manhole 35 feet from the
edge of Lake Tahoe to fill with sewage, the district said in a
Thirty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality.
Join us as we guide you on a virtual journey into the foothills and the mountains to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state.
Millions of people visit the Tahoe Sierra each year to enjoy
and recreate on Lake Tahoe, Donner and Independence lakes, as
well as the satellite reservoir system of Boca, Prosser and
Stampede. All these storage basins are in California, but since
the Truckee River system is part of Great Basin hydrology, none
of the streamflow reaches the Pacific Ocean. I frequently
get queries, especially during a drought, regarding our
regional water management. It seems that few people realize
that these reservoirs, including Lake Tahoe, are regulated
primarily for Nevada interests. -Written by Mark McLaughlin, freelance
Lists can be very useful. They’re simple. They get to the
point. An all-too-familiar way to recount the past 18
months is by listing off the terrible, unthinkable things our
society and community have been through: a pandemic, economic
hardship, social unrest, historic wildfires, and environmental
damage – even here in our beloved Tahoe Basin. On the eve
of the 25th Annual Lake Tahoe Summit, and with an optimistic
eye, we’re suggesting a different way to read that list. -Written by Darcie Goodman Collins, CEO of the
League to Save Lake Tahoe / Keep Tahoe Blue; Joanne S.
Marchetta, executive director of the Tahoe Regional
Planning Agency; and Steve Teshara, CEO of the Tahoe
Water in Lake Tahoe could rise to unprecedented
levels, potentially placing communities downstream in
jeopardy, according to a study from environmental scientists at
UC Davis’ Tahoe Environmental Research Center. In the past
two years, California saw brutal heatwaves and droughts shrink
Lake Tahoe’s water level to a point so low that some boats
couldn’t be launched. However, that’s expected to change. While
temperatures aren’t projected to cool off, Lake Tahoe could see
a rapid depletion of its snowpack and an influx of water during
the coming years.
Microplastic pollution is seemingly ubiquitous, and few know
this as well as staff research associate with the UC Davis
Tahoe Environmental Research Center Katie Senft. Senft, in
collaboration with the Nevada Division of Environmental
Protection, is looking for sinks of microplastics in Lake
Tahoe. … Senft is looking at five different areas of the
lake. The first is surface water.
The Bureau of Reclamation’s California Great-Basin Region
announces the selection of Jack Worsley as the Lahontan Basin
Area Office Manager. The area office administers Reclamation
activities over a large portion of the Great Basin, including
the watersheds of Lake Tahoe, the Truckee and Carson rivers,
and much of northern Nevada. The office oversees the operations
of the Newlands Project, one of Reclamation’s first projects,
and the facilities that regulate Lake Tahoe and the Truckee
The first pull of the day was a Corona bottle, its label
scraped off by the coarse sand just off the shore of South Lake
Tahoe. How long it had been there was anyone’s guess. A
freediver in the floating cleanup crew unearthed it from the
sand — only about 12 feet deep here — and surfaced to dump it
in a green floating trash raft named Darlene. It was Day
15 of the first-ever effort to systematically scoop up
submerged litter and junk that has accumulated on the bottom
along Lake Tahoe’s 72-mile shoreline.
Environmental lawyers are urging a California appellate court
to overturn a pair of district court rulings that handed
significant victories to the Squaw Valley ski resort as it
moves forward with expansion plans critics say will
dramatically increase traffic in the area and harm Lake Tahoe’s
air and water quality. Justice Vance W. Raye, chief of the
Third District Court of Appeals, appeared sympathetic to their
arguments this week that Placer County may have violated a
public records law in approving part of an environmental
analysis and mitigation plan at the home of the 1960 Winter
After two consecutive dry winters, Tahoe’s lake level is
sitting a little over 1.5 feet above its natural rim — a
threshold the alpine lake is forecasted to drop below in the
next three months. And while the rise and fall of Lake
Tahoe’s water level is cyclical in the short-term (with
evaporation and downstream flow offsetting spring runoff
filling the lake each year) and the long-term (the lake has
fallen below it’s natural rim over 20 times in the last century
since data collection began), experts are concerned by the
severity of the current drought and its impacts on water
supply, wildfires and wildlife.
At least 70 large wildfires are burning across the US west and
nearby states – engulfing more than 1m acres in flames – as
fears mount that shifting conditions can worsen an already dire
situation. Significant areas of these states are in the grips
of drought conditions that are considered “extreme” and
“exceptional” – the most severe categories. In California,
a rapidly growing wildfire south of Lake Tahoe jumped a
highway, prompting more evacuation orders and the cancellation
of an extreme bike ride through the Sierra Nevada on Saturday.
Every spring, the snow begins to melt and make its way down the
mountains, across marshes and meadows, and through the 63
tributaries flowing into Lake Tahoe. … [T]he route that the
water takes before eventually ending up in the lake is crucial
to maintaining Tahoe’s famed clarity. Why, you might ask? It’s
all about those SEZs. Stream environment zones are a
Tahoe-specific term, meaning “an area that owes its biological
and physical characteristics to the presence of surface or
groundwater,” according to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
Meadows, marshes, streams, streambanks, and beaches are all
examples of SEZs…
Lake Tahoe’s water continues to show some of the murkiest
levels on record, according to a new report from UC Davis.
Readings from 2020 put the average depth of Tahoe’s water
clarity at 62.9 feet, on par with 2019’s average of 62.7 feet
but down a substantial 8 feet from the year before. The 2019
and 2020 data show the lake near its lowest level of clarity
since UC Davis researchers began keeping records 53 years ago.
The worst year was 2017, when lake clarity measured 59.7 feet.
With drought conditions and a pair of record-setting heat waves
already in the rearview mirror, saving water is key during high
demand. In the face of record temperatures and the worst
drought in decades, the South Tahoe Public Utilities District
is offering three tips to save water as demand increases.
An afternoon on the lake unexpectedly turned into a close
encounter with wildlife for beachgoers in California. A large
adult black bear and three cubs took to a South Lake Tahoe
beach on Sunday to run and play in the water as about a dozen
onlookers watched in awe. The cubs wrestled in the lake as they
beat the high temperatures, which hit 90 degrees in South Lake
Tahoe that day. The four bears — along with a few wild geese —
made a day at the lake resemble a spontaneous day at the zoo
for the beachgoers.
Those watching the level of Lake Tahoe know it is dropping
quickly, and it’s not just because of a lack of snowfall this
year and another year of drought. Understanding why the lake
drops, and who causes it to drop (yes, there is a person – the
watermaster), is key to knowing why the lake should be at its
natural rim of 6,223 feet above sea level by the beginning of
August. As of June 8 the lake is two feet above that rim.
In May, Lake Tahoe watercraft inspectors have identified
numerous boats carrying harmful aquatic invasive species and
added them to the list of boats that had to be decontaminated
before launching, according to the Tahoe Regional Planning
Agency and the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, which
manage the inspection program. As of press time, 14 of the more
than 1,000 boats inspected were found to have aquatic invasive
species in, on or attached to the boat, boat trailer, dock
lines or on-board recreational equipment, according to a press
Multiple earthquakes rattled the Lake Tahoe region on Friday,
the latest in a sequence that began in late April. … Tahoe
sits on major fault lines more than a thousand years overdue to
rupture… A huge shake could even lead to a Tahoe
tsunami, but he says for now – it’s still highly unlikely. But
in the event of something major, Kent recommends not wasting
any time getting away from the water.
Updated timing on this late spring storm shows snow arriving in
the Tahoe Basin around noon Thursday. The chance of snow will
continue through Saturday with overnight snow levels dropping
as low as 4,500 feet in some areas. The heaviest accumulation
will be on Thursday with lighter showers Friday and Saturday.
Totals will range from 1-6 inches on the passes.
Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla (both D-Calif.)
today joined with Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky
Rosen (both D-Nev.) to introduce bipartisan legislation to
extend authorization of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act. The
original Lake Tahoe Restoration Act was passed in 2000 and
authorized $300 million for the restoration of the lake and
surrounding basin. The current authorization, which was passed
in 2016, will expire in 2024. Reauthorizing the bill will
prevent an interruption in conservation and restoration
Tiny specks of degraded plastics have been documented in the
snowpack around Lake Tahoe — and in the lake itself. They
have been found in the Las Vegas Wash. The phenomenon is not
unique to Nevada. Microplastics, the end product of our plastic
consumption, have been found in ecosystems across the
world, even in remote areas. Microplastics are small
— less than 5 millimeters — but they are not uniform.
They can have different shapes and vary in size. Microplastics
from clothing can appear as synthetic fibers, whereas degraded
plastic from bags or water bottles might take on a different
Amid drought conditions across the Sierra Nevada and
California, Lake Tahoe is 2.5 feet lower than it was at this
time last year, according to water data collected in Tahoe City
on May 11. … Lake Tahoe’s water typically gets a boost
from spring’s snowmelt. But as of May 11, the snowpack in the
Sierra Nevada has virtually melted, and Lake Tahoe’s water
levels are the lowest they’ve been in five
years, according to USGS data. Snow surveys on May 11
indicate California’s snowpack is just 6% of average for this
date. Barring significant precipitation this summer, Tahoe
is on track to reach a critical low point …
In many American communities, rivers irrigate the farms that
feed families, quench people’s thirst—rivers are the source of
more than two-thirds of the drinking water in the U.S.—sustain
wildlife habitat, and provide an economic boost for
communities. Yet only a very small portion of those waterways
are protected from threats ranging from pollution to damming,
which would wreck the water’s natural flow.
… California’s Regional Water Quality Control Boards
have authority to designate ONRWs but to date have done so for
only two bodies of water: Lake Tahoe and Mono Lake. However,
the state did initiate an analysis of the Smith River as
an ONRW but has not completed the effort. The Smith is a
Pacific salmon stronghold.
Lake Tahoe is known for its mesmerizing clear, blue water.
But there are multiple threats to the lake that may
someday change the color and worse, downgrade the quality
of the water. Some of the most difficult of these threats to
address are invasive species, specifically two types of
aquatic plants that are not native and are moving from an area
of the lake known as the Tahoe Keys into Lake Tahoe
itself. The plants are Eurasian watermilfoil and
Emerging technologies will be at the forefront of this summer’s
launch of the ten-year, multi-agency effort to address aquatic
invasive species (AIS) as laid out in The Lake Tahoe Region
Invasive Species Action Agenda. Published in late 2019,
Phase I of the Action Agenda aims to aggressively treat and
control-test mitigation measures of AIS in the Tahoe Keys from
2021-2025. The environmental assessment and control-testing
outcomes from Phase I will then guide the implementation of
Phase II’s reduction and eradication measures from 2026-2030.
Aquatic invasive species offer a complex and unique set of
challenges for experts looking to find the best mitigation
strategy for their Action Agenda.
The South Tahoe Public Utility District is seeking input as
they update the groundwater management plan for the greater
South Lake Tahoe area. Groundwater is the primary source of
drinking water for more than 90% of the public and private
water systems located throughout this area. Seeking input from
beneficial uses and users of groundwater ensures the region’s
Groundwater Management Plan assess current groundwater
conditions, reflects local groundwater concerns and offers an
appropriate long-term management plan to ensure our community
has a sustainable source of clean water supply.
The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection announced that
$1 million in Clean Water Act grant funds provided by the U.S
Environmental Protection Agency will be used to complete 11
projects, including two in Lake Tahoe, to reduce “nonpoint
source pollution” and improve water quality across the state.
In the Tahoe Keys—a neighborhood of houses and artificial
lagoons with easy boat access to Lake Tahoe, one of America’s
least polluted lakes—the water is not blue but a murky mass of
green, filled with invasive weeds. Dogs have died from swimming
in the canals, which is prone to toxic algae blooms. Activists
want to wall the Keys off from the lake. The neighborhood
association is proposing to tackle the problem with herbicides,
which have never been used before in Lake Tahoe.
Crews began work this month in the marsh system of Taylor and
Tallac creeks in the Southwest portion of the Tahoe Basin to
remove aquatic invasive plants from an abundant and impacted
marsh ecosystem, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency announced.
The creation of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency 50 years ago
challenged us to bring people together to pull this majestic
lake back from the brink. Today, TRPA is the backbone for 80
organizations and thousands of property owners working toward
the common goals of clean water, a healthy watershed and
The National Weather Service is forecasting a “major change” in
the weather across the Bay Area on Friday and through the
weekend, with temperatures dropping, winds kicking up and the
potential for rain.
A first-of-its-kind study in California has laid bare the
staggering scale of pollution from plastic microfibers in
synthetic clothing – one of the most widespread, yet largely
invisible, forms of plastic waste. The report, whose findings
were revealed exclusively by the Guardian, found that in 2019
an estimated 4,000 metric tons – or 13.3 quadrillion fibers –
were released into California’s natural environment.
Tahoe, an off-grid tourist attraction which acts as a supreme
winter holiday destination for the city dwellers of California
in need of a nature-filled escape, continues to maintain the
core elements of local life with unique and breathtaking
Volunteer citizen scientists working with the League to Save
Lake Tahoe conducted surveys of Donner and Spooner lakes to
detect aquatic invasive species, and restored native wetland
habitat in Johnson Meadow in September. Both efforts are aimed
at preserving the Tahoe-Truckee region’s unique ecology.
U.S. and tribal officials are celebrating completion of a $34
million fish bypass system at a Nevada dam that will allow a
threatened trout species to return to some of its native
spawning grounds for the first time in more than a century.
Construction of the side channel with fish-friendly screens is
a major step toward someday enabling Lahontan cutthroat trout
to make the same 100-mile journey — from a desert lake
northeast of Reno to Lake Tahoe atop the Sierra — that they did
before the dam was built in 1905.
What is all this smoke from wildfires doing to Lake Tahoe
itself? I called Dr. Geoffrey Schladow, director of the UC
Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, to find out.
Schladow is part of a group of scientists that measure and
track Tahoe’s clarity. … To answer my question, Schladow gave
a standard scientist’s response: It’s complicated.
Groups in the Tahoe Basin are using new technology to fight
invasive species and decreasing lake clarity. Researchers at
University of Nevada, Reno and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
have been testing a UV light equipped vessel to control aquatic
invasive plants in the Tahoe Keys.
Nevada and California joined forces last week at the 24th
annual Lake Tahoe Summit to advance the states’ shared
priorities to protect and restore Lake Tahoe. … There is a
long history of collaboration between Nevada and California to
restore and protect the spectacular natural treasure of Lake
Tahoe and its surrounding environment. This spirit of
collaboration was a pillar of the 24th annual Lake Tahoe Summit
Kristen Averyt, PhD, is Nevada’s first State Climate Policy
Coordinator and offered a 42 minute presentation on climate
change and what it means for the environment and economics of
the Lake Tahoe Basin, region, and planet. On this edition of
the Wild Hare we take you on a tour of Dr. Averyt’s comments…
Growing up in Northern California, I spent my summers visiting
the Tahoe Basin, learning to appreciate the natural
environment. Those summers were filled with trips into the
remarkable backcountry, biking around the lake’s 72-mile
perimeter and swimming in its clear, blue water. It’s those
memories that I would carry with me each year into the Lake
The snow along the mountains of Nevada’s Great Basin trickle
down when the spring turns into summer. This produces a flurry
of wildlife and natural resources in our area ponds, rivers,
and lakes. … Along the majestic Truckee River, fishermen
would collect thousands of trout from the late 1800’s to the
1900’s. Eventually, this would cause the near extinction of our
state’s native species, the Lahontan cutthroat trout.
According to the latest data, local government and State
transportation agencies have successfully surpassed 2019
pollution prevention targets established to reduce urban
stormwater pollution and restore Lake Tahoe’s famous,
The key to controlling the numbers of Lake Tahoe’s invasive
Mysis shrimp, which have been linked to a decline in clarity,
might be as simple as rewarding the family dog with a treat. A
team from UC Davis Graduate School of Management have
identified the shrimp as an ingredient for high-end dog treats
and are currently in the early phases of developing an initial
The new tool is a light fixture called an array mounted under a
working barge, which trolls the marina dousing the plants on
the bottom with UV-C light, a short-wave electromagnetic
radiation light that damages the DNA and cellular structure of
California, lake country? While known for its Pacific Ocean
beaches and chic coastal towns, the Golden State is also home
to many pristine lakes and reservoirs where visitors can soak
up the sun and cool off. CNN Travel takes a quick and
refreshing look at some of the best lakes in California.
Lake Tahoe’s fluctuating clarity got worse last year during an
especially cold and wet winter as sedimentation, algae growth
and a tiny invasive shrimp continued to pose restoration
challenges for the famed clear water of the mountain lake
straddling the California-Nevada line.
When it was measured last year, the clarity of the lake was
about 80 feet. … But, consider this, about 20 years ago, the
clarity of lake was 100 feet. That’s the trend scientists are
trying to reverse.
Over the next 3 weeks a group of League to Save Lake Tahoe
citizen scientists will outfit their clothes driers with
special filters to capture particles from dryer vent emissions.
Dr. Monica Arienzo of the Desert Research Institute explained
that unexpected results from a remote snow sample led to a
curiosity in dryer emissions.
This new technology is an improvement on the existing bubble
curtain, providing more air and a much stronger application of
it. It also includes sea bins that will act like garbage cans,
collecting the fragments that are knocked free by the bubble
In June 2018, scientists first noticed that aspen trees around
the basin were looking more defoliated than usual… “It was
concerning because, from a landscape diversity perspective,
aspens are so priceless in terms of what they contribute up
here,” said Will Richardson, executive director of the Tahoe
Institute for Natural Science.
The Upper Truckee Marsh in South Lake Tahoe once covered 1,600
acres and is now around 600 acres. It suffered in recent
decades because of cattle ranching, channelizing of the river
and the development of a neighborhood called the Tahoe Keys in
the 1950s and ’60s.
The historic lighthouse at Rubicon Point was born out of
organized advocacy work in the early 1900s. The Lake Tahoe
Protective Association formed in response to a proposal to cut
the rim of Lake Tahoe at the Truckee River. The proposal was
floated by the Truckee River General Electric Company in 1912
as a means to keep water flowing out of Tahoe even when the
lake level dipped too low.
Clarity in Tahoe, the alpine jewel of Northern California known
for its crystaline waters, was measured to a depth of 62.7 feet
in 2019. That’s down nearly 8 feet from the year before, when
clarity clocked in at 70.9 feet, and stands as the
second-lowest figure since record-keeping began in 1968.
Unlike in recent years when researchers were able to point to a
dominant factor affecting lake clarity like drought or
higher-than-average precipitation, 2019 saw a range of
influences on Tahoe, including lake mixing for the first time
in several years, sediment, algae, and climate warming. Those
factors, according to the University of California, Davis Tahoe
Environmental Research Center, combined to cause a roughly
8-foot decrease in average clarity from the previous year’s
The American Water Works Association has recognized the Tahoe
Water Suppliers Association with the 2020 Exemplary Source
Water Protection Award for its high level of protection and
preservation of the Lake Tahoe watershed, the region’s primary
water source for residents.
It is well known that warm water fish (bass and bluegill) have
diminished wild trout populations at Lake Tahoe. … However,
getting rid of the illegally planted warm water fish isn’t
altogether realistic, and the real agenda is only hinted at:
Protection for recently planted Cutthroat trout, declared as
the only ‘worthy’ fish allowed in the lake.
Wildfires are feasting on overgrown, overcrowded and
undermanaged forests, warmer temperatures have created longer
fire seasons and officials are trying to prevent another
environmental catastrophe. That was all just part of the
discussion Monday during Operation Sierra Storm, a national
weather conference sponsored by the Lake Tahoe Visitors
During the past 107 years, daily air temperatures measured in
Tahoe City have increased. The average daily maximum
temperature has risen by 2.25 degrees Fahrenheit, and the
average daily minimum temperature has risen by 4.43 degrees.
According to the report, the number of days when air
temperatures averaged below freezing has declined by about 30
days since 1911, though year-to-year variability is high.
Water is indeed the most precious natural resource in the arid
West and from that perspective it should come as no surprise
that water-rights issues on Lake Tahoe and Truckee River have
been at the center of negotiation and controversy since
pioneers first settled the region.
Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality.
Participants joined us as we guided them on a virtual journey into the foothills and the mountains to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state.
Good news, just in time for Memorial Day Weekend: The clarity
of the famed, cobalt-blue waters of Lake Tahoe improved
dramatically last year, with visibility increasing 10 feet from
the year before, a study released Thursday by scientists at UC
Davis found. The jump is the largest annual improvement in 50
years, since measurements at the iconic Sierra Nevada lake
began in 1968.
For the third year in a row, Lake Tahoe is expected to fill.
This is noteworthy for the sixth-largest lake in the United
States that flirted with record-low levels amid a five-year
drought that ended in 2017.
This bill calls for $150M in funding over the next ten years
from the state’s General Fund to conduct laser surveys via ten
airplane trips over the Trinity Alps and the Sierra Nevada each
year. They would also fly over hydrologic areas that drain to,
or supply water to, certain major reservoirs and lakes.
A pilot program that used ultraviolet light to combat aquatic
invasive plants has shown promising results. Results from the
program, which was deployed in Lakeside Marina in the summer of
2017, show the use of ultraviolet-C light successfully killed
submerged aquatic plants, according to the Tahoe Resource
Bonds to continue the next phase of an improvement program are
critical to the Tahoe Basin. That was the message delivered to
the Nevada Assembly Government Affairs Committee on Tuesday.
Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle, D-Sparks, said the $8 million in
this biennium’s bonding package will cover Nevada’s share of
the Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program for two years.
California wildland managers said Tuesday they want to speed up
logging and prescribed burns designed to slow wildfires that
have devastated communities in recent years. After the
deadliest and most destructive blazes in state history,
officials are scrapping 12 years of efforts and starting anew
on creating a single environmental review process to cover
projects on private land, such as cutting back dense stands of
trees and setting controlled fires to burn out thick
The owners of a Lake Tahoe ski resort in a legal battle with an
environmental group over a redevelopment project have failed to
persuade a California judge to penalize the conservationists
with an order to pay more than $225,000 in attorney bills.
Placer County Judge Michael Jones ruled in August against
Sierra Watch’s claim the county violated public meeting laws
when it approved Alterra Mountain Co.’s expansion at Squaw
Valley Alpine Meadows near Tahoe City, California.
Having been hauled thousands of miles from across the country,
a pontoon boat bound for a weekend on Lake Tahoe pulls into the
Alpine Meadows Watercraft Inspection Station. It’s one of
roughly 8,000 motorized vessels that were inspected during this
past boating season, and one of more than 5,000 that did not
meet Lake Tahoe’s Water Inspection Program’s standards of being
clean, drained and dry.
For those of you who’ve managed to hike every California State
Park trail at Lake Tahoe there’s a new adventure — only this
one you’ll need a dive mask to explore. On Monday, the state
opened the Emerald Bay Maritime Heritage Trail — an underwater
showcase of Lake Tahoe’s historic sunken watercraft and barges.
Blindly feeling along a section of fabric mat underneath the
water’s surface at Lakeside Marina, a diver grabs a U-shaped
piece of rebar and begins hammering away. At only a handful of
feet below the water’s surface visibility drops to zero, making
work difficult, but it’s an essential job in what could be a
vital piece in the puzzle to solve Lake Tahoe’s aquatic
invasive species problem.
With smoke pooling in the Tahoe Basin, members of Congress from
Nevada, California, and Alaska took the stage at Sand Harbor on
Tuesday for the 22nd annual Lake Tahoe Summit. While the
representatives touched on a number of issues regarding Tahoe
and the importance of public-private sponsorships in the fight
to preserve and restore the lake, there would be no ignoring
the affects of the largest fire in California state history as
the members of Congress stood in front of a lake clouded by
Both physically and rhetorically, wildfires dominated this
year’s Tahoe Summit. Physically, smoke from some of the largest
and deadliest wildfires in California history hazed-over the
normally stellar view from Nevada’s Sand Harbor State Park,
where the 22nd edition of the summit was held.
Climate change is gradually warming Lake Tahoe, clouding its
clarity and threatening its fabled “blueness,” scientists at UC
Davis warned Thursday. In its annual “State of the Lake”
report, the university’s Tahoe Environmental Research Center
said surface water temperatures in July 2017 spiked to an
average 68.4 degrees.
An invading army of moths is stripping the leaves from aspen
trees around Lake Tahoe, and state officials are seeking the
public’s help to document the problem. White satin moths are a
non-native defoliator of aspens, cottonwoods, willows and other
Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply
originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water
supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests,
which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought,
wildfires and widespread tree mortality.
We headed into the foothills and the mountains to examine
water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts
downstream and throughout the state.
GEI (Tour Starting Point)
2868 Prospect Park Dr.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.
In the recent primary election, 57 percent of California voters
said “yes” to Prop 68, the Parks, Environment and Water Bond,
securing $4 billion in general obligation bonds for
California’s parks, natural resources and restoration projects.
The funding includes up to $27 million for the California Tahoe
Conservancy (CTC), which spearheads conservation and
restoration projects in the Tahoe Basin.
With Floriston rates, or rate of flow on the Truckee River at
Floriston, meeting the required mean flow of 500 cubic feet per
second, and Lake Tahoe’s elevation below the maximum of
6,229.10 feet, the Lake Tahoe Dam remained closed until last
week, which forced the two [rafting] companies off the water.
Lake Tahoe’s elevation was measured at 6,228.95 on June 26,
according to the Water Master’s daily report, with the flow
rate at Farad measured at 591 cubic feet per second.
Deputies with a Lake Tahoe patrol crew helped recover a
malfunctioning robot deployed by UC Davis researchers to study
climate change, Placer County Sheriff’s Office reported Sunday
on Facebook. And it’s a good thing they picked it up before
someone else did, because the yellow-and-blue device bears a
fairly strong resemblance to a torpedo.
Lake Tahoe continues to be a test site for new technology aimed
at controlling aquatic invasive plants. The latest example is
the use of a device called a “bubble curtain” in the Tahoe Keys
neighborhood, according to the League to Save Lake Tahoe, which
is working with the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association to
combat invasive plants that have overrun the channels in the
The largest privately-owned section of the Upper Truckee River
is now in public hands, paving the way for another restoration
project on an altered watershed harming Lake Tahoe’s famed
clarity. This week the Tahoe Resource Conservation District
announced the acquisition of Johnson Meadow, a 206-acre portion
of a larger watershed that, in its original form, acted as a
natural water filter for both the Upper Truckee River and Trout
Conservationists in the Lake Tahoe region are celebrating the
acquisition by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District of a
206-acre property, Johnson Meadow, in South Lake Tahoe. The
property is a key piece of the puzzle for conservation groups
who are working to restore the Upper Truckee River watershed
and help improve Lake Tahoe’s famous clarity, which has been on
the decline in recent decades.
The way people play along Lake Tahoe’s 72 miles of shoreline
could change this year. The latest iteration of theTahoe
Shoreline Plan comes out Tuesday. The proposal would add 138
piers, of which 10 are public.
Lake Tahoe, the iconic high Sierra water body that straddles
California and Nevada, has sat for more than 10,000 years at
the heart of the Washoe tribe’s territory. In fact, the name
Tahoe came from the tribal word dá’aw, meaning lake. The lake’s
English name was the source of debate for about 100 years after
it was first “discovered” in 1844 by people of European descent
when Gen. John C. Fremont’s expedition made its way into the
Tahoe, the iconic high Sierra water body that straddles
California and Nevada, has sat for more than 10,000 years at the
heart of the Washoe tribe’s territory. In fact, the name Tahoe
came from the tribal word dá’aw, meaning lake.
The lake’s English name was the source of debate for about 100
years after it was first “discovered” in 1844 by people of
European descent when Gen. John C. Fremont’s expedition made its
way into the region. Not long after, a man who carried mail on
snowshoes from Placerville to Nevada City named it Lake Bigler in
honor of John Bigler, who served as California’s third governor.
But because Bigler was an ardent secessionist, the federal
Interior Department during the Civil War introduced the name
Tahoe in 1862. Meanwhile, California kept it as Lake Bigler and
didn’t officially recognize the name as Lake Tahoe until 1945.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has reached an agreement with
the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to provide $1 million in
federal funding to help combat invasive aquatic species that
harm the health and clarity of Lake Tahoe.
After last winter’s big snowfall and this year’s “Miracle
March,” which pounded the basin with feet of much-needed snow,
Lake Tahoe’s water level has remained high and the Tahoe City
dam has been releasing more water down the Truckee River. But
for one lakefront community, it’s not happening fast enough.
Lake Tahoe’s cold, deep waters have long been the source of
tall tales about death and hidden secrets. There are stories of
bodies dumped by the Mafia floating in its depths, perfectly
preserved by the cold temperatures, and others of Chinese
laborers who were tied together and dropped into the icy waters
to avoid payment for their work on the railroad.
A Nevada-based program that’s generated more than $300 million
to improve Lake Tahoe would take a funding hit under one
federal budget proposal. On Monday the Interior Department
published a budget brief that includes a proposal to take $230
million from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management
Act over the next three years.
Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply
originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water
supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests,
which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought,
wildfires and widespread tree mortality.
Governors of 19 Western states are pressing the federal
government to do more to prevent the spread of damage-causing
invasive mussels from infected federally managed waterways.
… The governors say they’re particularly concerned about
the mussels reaching the Columbia River Basin, Lake Tahoe, and
the Colorado River Basin above Lake Powell.
One of north Lake Tahoe’s cutest residents, the American pika,
has disappeared. UC Santa Cruz researchers have discovered an
extinction spanning from Tahoe City to Truckee, the largest
pika die-off in the modern era.
The 21st annual Lake Tahoe Summit brought together federal,
California and Nevada elected officials to discuss the
importance of continued partnership in the basin-wide fight
against tree mortality, invasive species, declining lake
clarity — and the global issue of climate change.
Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt will deliver the
keynote address — a responsibility performed in 2016 by former
President Barack Obama. … Additional remarks will be
delivered by U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Dean Heller (R-Nev.),
Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.);
Reps. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.);
Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-Nev.); and Joanne Marchetta, executive
director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
Intense seasonal changes in 2016 — hallmarks of climate change
— killed huge swaths of forest around the lake and nourished
invasive species, according to the annual Tahoe State of the
Lake Report released Thursday by the UC Davis Tahoe
Environmental Research Center.
Lake Tahoe’s famously clear waters continue to warm, and the
surrounding forests face dire threats due to drought, disease
and insects, according to the annual Tahoe State of the Lake
report by researchers at UC Davis. The second deepest lake in
the United States after Crater Lake, Lake Tahoe has warmed by
half a degree Fahrenheit each year for the past four years — 14
times faster than the historic rate, the report said.
Tahoe is brimming, nearly full for the first time in 11 years,
and stunningly beautiful in all its blue-water glory.
… When the first heat wave of the season hit in
mid-June, more than 12 billion gallons of water flowed into the
lake in a single week.
Visitors to North Lake Tahoe this summer will notice the steady
flow of the Truckee River, the high water level of Lake Tahoe,
and dense green growth that has sprung up across the region
thanks to record snow and rainfall this winter. But they’ll
also see an increasing number of dead trees.
With 72 miles of shoreline and flows from more than 150 storm
water pipes, keeping an eye on what ends up in Lake Tahoe is
easier said than done. For the last five years the League to
Save Lake Tahoe, known for its slogan “Keep Tahoe Blue,” has
been relying on citizen science to monitor drainage sites and
collect water samples around the lake.
As of Tuesday afternoon, lake level was at 6,228.18 feet, just
.92 inches from Lake Tahoe’s legal limit of 6,229.1 feet. The
Upper Truckee River was just shy of 8 ½ feet — about 2 feet
from flood stage.
UC Davis scientists from the Tahoe Environmental Research
Center have been measuring the lake’s water clarity for nearly
50 years. The latest data shows a big drop in how far down the
human eye can see into the lake.
Climate change is causing Lake Tahoe to warm sooner in the
spring than it has historically, disrupting the normal mixing
of shallow and deep water and undercutting gains made in
reversing the loss of clarity of the cobalt mountain lake,
The depressing scene of boat docks sitting high and dry on wide
beaches around Lake Tahoe will likely be a fleeting memory this
summer. Winter’s unrelenting storms built up a substantial
Sierra snowpack and are expected to fill the lake for the first
time in 11 years.
The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, which was signed by former
President Barack Obama in December, allocated $415 million over
10 years for environmental management and restoration of the
region — and also gave agencies in Lake Tahoe a push to create
more contiguous land ownership for more efficient supervision.
Given the amount of precipitation that has dumped into Lake
Tahoe in the past handful of months, water officials may have
to send “quite a bit” of water over the emergency spillway
located in Tahoe City.
Top scientists announced in January that last year was the
hottest year on record — an announcement they’ve made three
years in a row, with 2014, 2015 and now 2016 each being
declared warmer than the previous year.
With the stroke of a pen Friday President Barack Obama
solidified $415 million in federal funding for projects in and
around Lake Tahoe, along with providing funding for drought
relief in California and other water projects.
The Sierra Nevada is getting soaked this year, and Lake Tahoe
is one of the biggest beneficiaries. The sixth-largest
lake in the United States, which straddles California and
Nevada, reached its natural rim after weekend storms dumped
12.5 billion gallons of water into the lake.
Six inches of rain fell in South Lake Tahoe, reported US
National Weather Service in Reno, translating to a deposit of
roughly 33,660 acre-feet of water, or 11 billion gallons, to
Lake Tahoe. … Despite the much-needed rainfall, the lake
level still remains around 2.5 inches below the natural rim of
The Lake Tahoe Basin saw continued environmental improvement
over the last four years, but faces major challenges from
climate change, according to a draft 2015 Threshold Evaluation
Report released by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA).
California’s Salton Sea and state-straddling Lake Tahoe would
receive funding for environmental restoration under a bill set
for Senate approval Thursday. More controversial water-related
efforts remain stuck in Capitol Hill limbo, however.
The Obama administration unveiled initiatives to help restore
the Salton Sea and improve the region’s climate resilience,
economy and public health as part of President Barack Obama’s
visit to Lake Tahoe Wednesday.
President Barack Obama, fixed against a pristine backdrop of
the Sierra Nevada, issued a forceful defense Wednesday of his
administration’s policies to address climate change, warning
that rising temperatures could lay waste to decades of
conservation efforts at Lake Tahoe and throughout the United
Standing beneath the forest-green peaks of the Sierra Nevada,
President Barack Obama drew a connection Wednesday between
conservation efforts and stopping global warming, describing
the two environmental challenges as inseparably linked.
The White House on Wednesday announced a series of new funding
and environmental programs to address the deteriorating
health of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding forests caused in
part by the increasing temperatures brought about by climate
At a conservation summit on the southern shore of Lake
Tahoe, President Obama on Wednesday pointed to the
environmental degradation of the lake’s once-crystal-clear
waters as proof of the damage caused by climate change and
warned of the threat posed by Republican leaders who continue
to deny its existence.
The work to preserve and protect Lake Tahoe will be center
stage here on Wednesday as U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., hosts
the 20th annual Lake Tahoe Summit, with invitees including
President Barack Obama and Nevada’s own The Killers performing
at the event at Harveys Lake Tahoe Hotel and Casino at
Firefighters protected Lake Tahoe’s famously clear water as
they quickly snuffed out flames shooting from a docked tourist
cruise boat, preventing any fuel or oil leaks, the U.S. Coast
Guard said Wednesday.
With all their modern scientific equipment and state-of-the-art
computer models, researchers trying to better understand the
effect of algae growth in Lake Tahoe are searching for new
tools to aid in their mission — old photo albums.
Last week, University of California Davis Professor Geoff
Schladow broke the news gently before a crowd of residents and
scientists that Lake Tahoe is still getting warmer, regional
winters are still getting shorter, and overall snowfall is
still on the decline.
Another Memorial Day came and went this year, but the marina at
Meeks Bay Resort didn’t open for a third straight season — this
time due to a high concentration of pollutants, an issue that
apparently has been a concern for more than a decade.
When the Tahoe Keys were created in the 1960s they became Lake
Tahoe’s largest commercial marina. … It’s possible that no
one could have foreseen that those warm, shallow channels would
one day be home to Tahoe’s most dense population of invasive
Lake Tahoe’s famed water clarity took a hit last year in part
due to California’s fourth consecutive year of drought.
… With spring snowmelt continuing, the lake is currently
2 inches above its rim and has begun spilling over into the
Truckee River for the first time since October 2014.
A growing network of cameras trained on the forested mountains
around Lake Tahoe is changing the way crews fight Western
wildfires by allowing early detection that triggers quicker,
cheaper, more tactical suppression than traditional war-like
operations, experts said Wednesday.
Deep in Gov. Brown’s 2016-17 budget was a big surprise for Lake
Tahoe – the lake was cut out of its expected share of a $475
million environmental pie. Two years ago, California voters
approved Proposition 1, a complex, $7.12 billion water bond
Here at the Gatekeepers Museum, onlookers see something that
until now has been a rare occurrences. Lake Tahoe at its
natural rim, slightly above as a matter of fact, to allow water
to overflow into tributaries — like the Truckee River.
The Tahoe Basin took a significant step toward ongoing
watershed restoration, forest health and lake water quality
projects last week. … “These awards demonstrate California’s
continuing commitment to Tahoe’s Environmental Improvement
Program,” Tahoe Conservancy executive director Patrick Wright
said in a statement.
Like hundreds of lakes around the world, Lake Tahoe has been
warming steadily for more than 40 years, with surface
temperatures rising faster than the global warming rate of
oceans and the atmosphere, an international survey has
Perhaps the stunning blue lake waters were the inspiration for
Gov. Jerry Brown to offer a crystal-clear message at Lake
Tahoe’s annual environmental summit: Opponents in the political
fight over climate change better be ready.
Nevada Congressman Mark Amodei recalled cleaning toilets at
Sand Harbor. … Those were some of the stories business, state
and federal leaders referred to during the 2015 Lake Tahoe
Summit at Round Hill Pines Beach on Monday, Aug. 24.
The first major historical art survey of Lake Tahoe and the
Sierra’s infamous Donner Pass takes an ambitious trip through
two centuries, highlighting the roles of Native Americans and
railroad barons and the tourists and scientists trying to halt
the loss of clarity in the azure waters.
The lawmakers convening Monday for a major Lake Tahoe
conference confront a Capitol Hill conflict over how best to
protect the much-beloved mountain region. They differ over
money, environmental laws, timber harvesting and more.
When elected officials from California and Nevada meet Monday
for the 19th annual Lake Tahoe Summit, much attention will be
given to the clarity of the lake and protecting the unique
basin environment. Part of the discussion must include the
health of our national forests and their associated watersheds.
There are many threats facing Lake Tahoe, and unless we take
action, the pristine beauty [John] Muir described will soon be
only a memory. We [Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Dianne
Feinstein, D-Calif.] joined our colleagues, Senators Harry
Reid and Barbara Boxer, to introduce the bipartisan Lake Tahoe
Restoration Act of 2015, a bill to protect Lake Tahoe and the
Tahoe Basin for generations to come.
The $250,000 plan, sponsored by the Tahoe Keys Property Owners
Association (TKPOA), released on Tuesday for comment, tackles
an issue that other methods during the past 25 years have
failed to address to remove non-native invasive species that
choke parts of the Tahoe Keys lagoons.
While Lake Tahoe’s iconic blueness and clarity often garner all
the attention during annual State of the Lake reports, it was
the lake’s increasing rate of evaporation in 2014 that most
surprised the report’s author this year.
We face major environmental challenges at Tahoe, including the
uncertainties of climate change. … This month, our bi-state
delegation in the U.S. Senate introduced the Lake Tahoe
Restoration Act of 2015.