Published: Jun 24, 2024

Tahoe Conservancy Awards $220,000 to Support Washoe Tribal Involvement in Environmental Planning, Restoration at Tahoe

Conservancy Also Awards $150,000 for Invasive New Zealand Mudsnail Surveillance

South Lake Tahoe, Calif.—June 24, 2024—At its meeting last week, the California Tahoe Conservancy Board awarded a $220,000 grant to help fund the creation of a new Lake Tahoe Basin liaison position for the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. The Washoe Tribal Liaison position will help ensure meaningful Tribal participation in Basin land management decisions and actions.

“As Tahoe’s original stewards, the Waší∙šiw, or Washoe people, were the first ecologists, biologists, hydrologists, botanists, and land managers for the Basin,” said Conservancy Board Chair Adam Acosta. “Restoring Tribal stewardship and incorporating the Tribe’s traditional ecological knowledge into land management will help the Conservancy and our Basin partners develop better projects to restore the Basin’s ecological resilience.”

At the Washoe Tribe’s request, the Conservancy is awarding this grant to the League to Save Lake Tahoe, and the League will then provide a grant to the Tribe. The Conservancy is joining a coalition of funders who have collaborated to establish this position. The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation will be following up with an announcement highlighting all the funding partners.

The Conservancy Board also awarded a $150,000 grant to Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD) to conduct surveillance for invasive New Zealand mudsnails in the nearshore of Lake Tahoe. Divers contracted by Tahoe RCD discovered that New Zealand mudsnails were present in Lake Tahoe in September 2023.

Aquatic invasive species are a national problem. When a non-native species is introduced into a waterbody, it can outcompete native species and impair natural habitats and water quality. Documenting where the mudsnail infestation has spread will help predict where future impacts from this species might occur and inform future actions to manage the infestation.

The Board also adopted the Conservancy’s 2024-2029 Strategic Plan. Over the last year and a half, the Conservancy developed the new Strategic Plan with engagement from the Washoe Tribe, partners, and the public. The Plan outlines the goals and strategies for how the Conservancy will fulfill its mission to lead California’s efforts to restore and enhance the extraordinary natural and recreational resources of the Basin. Chairman Serrell Smokey of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California joined the Board meeting to speak in support of the new strategic plan, noting the importance of the progress that the Washoe Tribe and Conservancy have made together.

At the same meeting, the Board authorized staff to accept and expend up to $900,000 to plan the Knox Johnson and Motel 6 Restoration Project. The Conservancy is advancing planning for a full site restoration, including public access and recreation opportunities, with goals of enhancing biodiversity and ecosystems, improving water quality, and increasing the natural system’s resilience to climate change.

Heidi Mayerhofer, Field Representative for California State Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil, presented a commendation from Senator Alvarado-Gil to the Conservancy on its historic acquisition of the 31-acre Knox Johnson and Motel 6 property. The commendation noted the importance of the acquisition for wildlife habitat and connectivity, and for protecting Lake Tahoe’s famous clarity.

The Board also authorized the City of South Lake Tahoe to use Conservancy properties to facilitate the City’s Bijou Park Creek Watershed Restoration Project.

The Board meeting wrapped up with a site tour that included a stop at Sugar Pine Village, the largest affordable housing project in the Basin, which is under construction on land provided by the Conservancy. The second tour stop was the Knox Johnson and Motel 6 property.

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The California Tahoe Conservancy is a state agency, under the California Natural Resources Agency and established in 1984, with a mission to lead California’s efforts to restore and enhance the extraordinary natural and recreational resources of the Lake Tahoe Basin. Learn more at