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Fighting Invasive Species In Lake Tahoe

Lake Mead National Recreation Area/Flickr

Zebra mussels attached to a boat at the Lake Mead. So far, Lake Tahoe is winning the war against the invasive species.

Quagga and zebra mussels are invasive species that can completely change the ecosystem in a lake.

Even though they make the water much clearer, they do it by killing everything else in the lake. The mussels invaded Lake Mead in 2007, but so far they haven't made it to Lake Tahoe.

"We're going to have to learn to live with them," Ashlie Watters with the National Parks Service Lake Mead Recreational District said.

The mussels are filter feeders and they eat the algae in the lake, changing the lake's ecosystem.

Officials at Lake Tahoe are working to ensure these species do not ruin the area. They are running strict checks of every boat that comes in and out of the lake.

Nicole Cartwright of the Tahoe Resource Conservation District told KNPR's State of Nevada that zebra mussels won't be in the lake "under my watch." 

She pointed out an invasion would cost more than the lake's environment. Lake Tahoe is a water source that is used by several communities and zebra mussels can fill and clog water pipes, which could be very costly.

"Prevention is ten times cheaper than what we would have to do for control and management and potential eradication," Cartwright said. 

We talked to officials there about the steps they are taking, and to Lake Mead officials about what these mussels have done to that ecosystem.


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Nicole Cartwright, Tahoe Resource Conservation District; Ashlie Watters, National Parks Service Lake Mead Recreational District

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)