The Lake Tahoe boat inspection program prevents invasive species from contaminating the water. Federal funding for the program lasts just one more year and it’s unclear where the money will come from after that.
For the last five years, boats launched into Lake Tahoe have been inspected to prevent non-native species like quagga mussels from wreaking havoc on the lake’s eco-system.
Dennis Zabaglo is with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which manages boat inspections. He says there’s a lot at stake for the region’s recreation-based economy if this program can’t find enough funding.
“The impacts are multi-millions of dollars a year to the local economy should some sort of invasive species become established.”
According to Zabaglo, boat inspection fees cover half of the $1.5 million it costs to run the program. Money from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service makes up most of the rest and will last just one more boating season.
Zabaglo and his staff are hoping that California and Nevada will pick up the tab after federal funding runs out.
“We’re seeking $375,000 from both states to cover that $750,000 shortfall.”
Zabaglo says his agency has drafted budget proposals that will be submitted to both states, and they should hear back by next summer.