Tahoe Boat Inspection Program Faces Major Funding Shortfall
With Lake Tahoe’s busy boating season but weeks away, the program to protect a national treasure from hitchhiking aquatic invaders is gearing up for its sixth year.
And with a pot of federal money that’s been key to funding boat inspections now drying up, the program will proceed this summer after officials raised a fee to decontaminate vessels, closed one inspection station on the lake’s west shore and will likely reduce the hours that inspections occur.
But this year’s issues are nothing compared to what could be coming next year, when the boat inspection effort faces a shortfall of up to $750,000 — roughly half the cost of the entire program.
“We’re looking under every rock to see how we’re going to fund the inspection program next year,” said Jeff Cowen, spokesman for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “We’re not leaving anybody out.”
A nonprofit organization formed to raise private money to finance important environmental projects around the lake, the Tahoe Fund, is kicking off a fund-raising effort to help out, with supporters saying much is at stake. One Tahoe area resort has already pledged to help.
Mandatory boat inspections, including decontamination of vessels suspected of hosting aquatic invasive species, have occurred at Tahoe since 2009, two years after quagga mussels were first discovered in the waters of Southern Nevada’s Lake Mead. Quaggas have since overrun Lake Mead, numbering in the trillions, and have spread to nearby water bodies.
Keeping quaggas, as well as their cousin the zebra mussel, out of Tahoe has been ...