Nevada agencies celebrate TRPA awards for Lake Tahoe conservation projects

Nevada Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources celebrates “Best in the Basin” and “Spirit of TRPA” Awards for Lake Tahoe forest health project & lake clarity restoration program

The Nevada Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (NDCNR) is excited to share that multiple divisions across the department have been recognized by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) for environmental conservation projects and programs that are instrumental in enhancing, protecting, and restoring Lake Tahoe’s famed water clarity, backcountry forests, and native ecosystems. 

The Nevada Tahoe Resource Team – comprised of members from the Nevada Division of State Lands, Nevada Division of Forestry, Nevada Division of State Parks, and Nevada Department of Wildlife – was recognized with the TRPA’s 2020 Best in the Basin Award (Category: Defensible Space and Forest Health) for the sweeping “Spooner Landscape Resilience Project” at the popular Spooner Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, a critical undertaking bolstering the area’s long-term resilience to drought, wildfire, and climate change. 

Additionally, the “Total Maximum Daily Load” team, which includes representatives from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, California’s Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, and U.S. EPA, was honored with the Spirit of TRPA Award (Category: Best of the 2010s) for completing an innovative water clarity restoration plan that continues to serve as the gold standard for science-based policymaking in the Tahoe Basin.

“From Lake Tahoe’s crystal-clear water, to the surrounding forests and serene backcountry, the Tahoe Basin is a spectacular environmental treasure and a world-renowned recreation destination,” said Bradley Crowell, Director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “Protecting and preserving the Tahoe Basin, together with our many partners on both sides of the lake, is a first order priority for the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The Spooner Forest Health project and the TMDL program are shining examples of epic collaboration and tangible, on-the-ground action to further protect and preserve Lake Tahoe for generations to come. I thank the TRPA for honoring these agency initiatives with the Best in the Basin and Spirit of TRPA awards, and I applaud our team and partners for their fantastic natural resource conservation work. As wildfire risks, climate change, and ever-growing demands for outdoor recreation continue to compound in Lake Tahoe, these programs, partnerships, and initiatives are becoming increasingly vital, and we look forward to continuing to advance science-based solutions to help ensure the long-term sustainable health of the Tahoe Basin.” 

“Reducing pollution and fostering a resilient landscape is critical to protect Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada in the face of rapidly increasing threats posed by climate change,” Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Executive Director Joanne S. Marchetta said. “The TMDL program is critical to restoring lake water clarity, and the Spooner forest health project is a shining example of multi-benefit, landscape-scale restoration work that must lead the way. The Nevada Tahoe Resource Team and TMDL team are important partners in preserving and protecting Lake Tahoe, and both deserve recognition for their collective hard work and leadership in the Tahoe Region.”

About the Spooner Forest Health Project – The Spooner Landscape Resilience Project focuses on enhancing the forest’s overall health and resiliency to wildfires, drought, climate change, and other pressing ecological threats. The project also includes enhancing the health and vibrancy of aspen trees that are iconic to this popular recreation destination and vital to the native ecosystem. 

Thus far, initial fuels treatment has been completed across 75% of the land within the Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, and over 300 acres of wildlife habitat have been restored and enhanced. The forest restoration project includes removing and transporting hazardous trees via helicopter, and to date, has re-purposed and sold over 7,000 tons of logs as lumber/biomass. 

Prior to launching the first phase of the project in Fall 2018, the area was brimming with dense vegetation spanning hundreds of acres throughout the Spooner Backcountry, making the area increasingly susceptible to environmental impacts and threatening public safety. The full project is set to be complete by end of 2021. Click here to learn more.

About the TMDL Program – Upon discovering a decline in Lake Tahoe’s water quality and clarity over several decades, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and the California Lahontan Water Board collaborated to establish a science-based plan to restore Lake Tahoe’s deep-water clarity to historic levels. To accomplish this, the TMDL team requires local governments, highway departments, and public land and natural resource management agencies to implement pollution controls to reduce the amount of clarity-harming pollutants that wash into the lake. The TMDL team releases annual reports to track and monitor progress, identify key trends, and inform key management and policy decisions using the best available science. Click here to learn more.