Invasive aquatic plant species are threatening the world-renowned clarity and rich ecosystems of Lake Tahoe. Now, regional organizations including the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and League to Save Lake Tahoe are trying to contain their spread before it’s too late.
Part of the problem is just how quickly these plants spread, says Zack Bradford, a senior science policy analyst at the environmental nonprofit Keep Tahoe Blue.
Standing along the shore of Lake Tahoe, Bradford reaches into the water and fishes out a brown-green plant about a foot long with tiny leaves. It’s called Eurasian watermilfoil.
“Each of these nodes… can also sprout roots, so you can imagine, looking at all the fragments here, how much of a risk this is for Tahoe, when fragments even this small are able to establish a new infestation,” says Bradford.
Plants such as Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed threaten to muck up the region’s $5 billion economy and spoil an international tourist destination.