Tahoe's Greatest Ecological Threat
Aquatic weeds, unintentionally introduced by humans, have taken over more than 90% of the 172 acres of lagoons in the Tahoe Keys, a development on Tahoe's South Shore. Left unchecked, aquatic invasive weeds threaten to destroy Lake Tahoe’s native ecology, pristine water quality and world-famous clarity. These problem plants are growing out of control in the Keys and are spreading into Lake Tahoe itself.
REMOVAL: Tackling the Tahoe Keys Complex
Crews are currently working to remove aquatic invasive weeds from a 100+ acre infestation known as the Tahoe Keys Complex, growing immediately outside of the Keys in Lake Tahoe proper. Watch the video above to catch a glimpse of the SCUBA diver-assisted suction dredging.
The aquatic invasive weed removal work is being performed by Marine Taxonomic Services, with funding and coordination from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, California Tahoe Conservancy, Tahoe Resource Conservation District, Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association, and the League to Save Lake Tahoe.
CONTAINMENT: Following Nature's Lead
In the spring of 2021, innovative technology was installed in the Keys' east channel, which connects the Tahoe Keys Marina to the Lake, to prevent invasive weeds from being transported into Lake Tahoe by passing boats and water currents. The bubble curtain technology emits a wall of tiny bubbles – mimicking the fishing techniques of humpback whales – to dislodge floating weed fragments and corral them for removal. Marine Taxonomic Services installed the new bubble curtain with funding and coordination from the League, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Tahoe Resource Conservation District and Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association.
The east channel bubble curtain complements a bubble curtain pilot project that the League and Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association implemented in the Keys' west channel in 2018. The success of that pilot project is why the technology is now being used elsewhere around the Lake, including at Elk Point marina, shown below.
Following the successful removal of an aquatic invasive weed infestation from this east shore location, the newly installed bubble curtain protects the now AIS-free marina from outside infestation. The League provided funding for this project, as well.
TOWARD A LONG-TERM SOLUTION: A Proposal to Address the Tahoe Keys Weeds Problem
A proposal to test a suite of methods to address the aquatic weed problem in the Tahoe Keys' lagoons is currently moving through a thorough environmental review process. Learn more about the problem in the Keys through this interactive story map. Visit tahoekeysweeds.org for more information.
How You Can Help
You can protect Lake Tahoe from future infestations of aquatic invasive weeds. Join the Eyes on the Lake volunteer program and use the free Citizen Science Tahoe App to report aquatic invasive species sightings. While you enjoy Tahoe's shoreline, use the app to take pictures and tell us what you see. In less than five minutes, you can contribute important information to help Keep Tahoe Blue.
Our weed-fighting work would not be possible without your support. Please consider donating today.