RENO, Nev. (AP) — Scientists waging a war on an Asian clam infestation at Lake Tahoe are asking for patience on the part of boaters.
They say boaters may experience some delays entering Emerald Bay during the next six weeks while divers deploy an underwater attack on the invasive species that helps harm Tahoe's famous clarity by promoting algae growth.
The Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Program will begin treating about five acres of the infested area next week in the largest project of its type in lake history.
The clams live on a shallow, gravel sand bar about 15 feet below the surface at the mouth of Emerald Bay on the southwest shore of the lake.
It will take the divers four to six weeks to lay down the thin rubber barriers, augmented with organic material, that reduce the available oxygen and smother the clams. The barriers will be left in place for about one year.
"This is a physically demanding undertaking. The project team is laying down over 4 miles of barriers, in very cold water at the mouth of Emerald Bay where water currents are known to fluctuate rapidly," said Dr. Geoffrey Schladow, director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.
Without treatment, the population can grow rapidly and become extremely difficult and expensive to control. By treating the Emerald Bay infestation in the early stage, these impacts can be minimized or avoided, he said.
Boaters are asked to remain at least 200 feet away from the project area, which will be designated with floating flags and may be closed off for short periods of time. Work will primarily occur during early morning and on weekdays, with no work occurring on weekends or holidays in order to reduce boater inconvenience.
Dan Shaw, environmental scientist for the California Department of Parks and Recreation, said it will be worth it in the long run.
"Preserving the exceptional boating and recreation opportunities in Emerald Bay State Park is important to us," Shaw said. "We are asking the boating community to exercise caution and a little patience when enjoying Emerald Bay for the next month."