Lake Tahoe's degraded near-shore environment new priority for research
Discoveries made through those detailed studies led to multimillion-dollar efforts to, among other things, control the discharge of fine sediments from Tahoe’s roads and urban centers into the lake — changes that have now apparently arrested the decline in water clarity in what many are cautiously calling a success story.
Now, researchers insist, it’s time to focus the scientific spotlight on parts of the lake closest to shore. It’s that part of Tahoe, the place most commonly experienced by visitors and residents, that now appears to be in the most trouble.
A new report focuses on the “apparent deterioration” of Tahoe’s so-called near-shore environment, a band of water ringing the lake’s shoreline extending about 350 feet out and to depths of about 69 feet in mid-summer.
It is here where water grows murky in the summer, where slippery green algae is increasingly found attached to submerged rocks. It is here where invading aquatic weeds are spreading, as are non-native clams that threaten to alter a sensitive ecology. Bass and other warmwater fish are spreading as well, while populations of native minnows are crashing.
Tahoe’s near-shore is the place where pollutants flowing from land are most concentrated. It is also the place that stands to be most affected by warming temperatures from a changing climate.
“Things are changing quickly,” said Alan Heyvaert, a scientist from Reno’s Desert Research Institute and principal investigator for a study that also involved researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno and University of California, Davis, among others.
“This is the area of the lake that has become a focus,” Heyvaert recently told governors of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “We know what’s been happening in the deep part of the lake. That’s what has driven a lot of the action here over the last several decades. As conditions improved, focus has shifted to the near shore.” see more: http://www.rgj.com/article/20131102/NEWS/311020045/Lake-Tahoe-s-degraded-near-shore-environment-new-priority-research