UPDATE: California voters approve first of two measures with $127 million for Tahoe, second vote in November
Savannah Mendoza, the natural resources program coordinator for KeepTahoeBlue.org has three tips on how people can keep Tahoe blue this summer when visiting.
UPDATE June 6, 2018:Voters approved the first of two bills that include a combined $127 million for Lake Tahoe projects. Voters approved Proposition 68 with an estimated 56 percent of the vote. The $4.1 billion measure contains $27 million for Lake Tahoe. Another measure scheduled for November would direct $100 million toward the lake.
California voters could approve spending $127 million for projects at Lake Tahoe in a series of ballot measures this year.
The Tahoe money would be just a small part of two bond measures that would total $13 billion, including $492 million in spending on projects in the Sierra Nevada.
“This is an unprecedented amount of potential funding for projects in the Sierra Nevada,” said Chris Mertens, government affairs director for the Sierra Business Council in Truckee.
Mertens said money would represent a huge investment by California voters in efforts to make Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada in general more resilient to climate change and other environmental stressors.
“It starts to recognize the importance this region has in statewide water discussions and also the state economy,” he said, noting that 60 percent of Californians get water from the Sierra.
The two ballot measures are the California Clean Water and Safe Parks Act, also known as Prop 68, and the Water Supply and Water Quality Act.
The California Clean Water and Safe Parks act, for $4.1 billion, is on the June 5 primary ballot. The Water Supply and Water Quality Act, for $8.9 billion, is scheduled for the November 6 election.
The California Tahoe Conservancy would get $27 million under Prop 68 and $100 million under the Water Supply and Quality Act.
Founded in 1984, the Tahoe Conservancy is one of ten California state conservancies.
It works with state, federal and local groups to secure funding for projects on the California side of the Tahoe Basin. Its recent projects include a project to restore the Upper Truckee Marsh near South Lake Tahoe, working with CalFire to conduct pile burning that reduces potential fuel for wildfires and working on a climate change adaptation plan for the basin.
“The parks bond will give us momentum moving forward, the water bond would definitely take them to the next level,” said Patrick Wright, executive director of the conservancy.
Wright said that, if approved, the bond measures would be “transformative” for the agency, which he said operates on about $6 million or $7 million annually along with funding from statewide bonds.
“It would provide a significant boost to a broad range of projects in the basin,” he said.
Projects eligible for funding would include items like bike trails, forest health improvement projects and restoration projects on the Upper Truckee River.
The river project is important because, Wright said, it’s “Tahoe’s largest and most impaired watershed,” and the top source of the lake’s fine sediment, which acts as a detriment to Tahoe’s renown clarity.
“This will provide a significant down payment toward getting that done,” Wright said.