CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - The four senators from Nevada and California renewed a push in Congress on Thursday to authorize $415 million over 10 years to address environmental threats at Lake Tahoe.
Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada are co-sponsoring the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act with Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California.
Similar legislation introduced in 2009 and 2011 failed to advance. The legislation, while authorizing the federal expenditure, does not include an appropriation, which also would require approval by Congress.
In a joint statement, the senators said the act would renew the federal government's commitment to protecting the Tahoe Basin's delicate ecosystem and the famed, clear waters of the alpine lake straddling the Nevada-California line.
"Lake Tahoe is one of the purist lakes in the world, and it is vital that we protect it," Reid said.
Heller said "preventing catastrophic wildfires, increasing lake clarity and providing for critical infrastructure" will foster long-term ecological health of the Tahoe Basin and protect a national treasurer.
Feinstein said Tahoe's fate should not be doomed by fiscal constraints.
"Even in times of fiscal austerity, we cannot ignore the natural wonders that define our country," she said, adding the bill "doubles down" on the environmental work that began nearly two decades ago.
Boxer said the legislation targets water quality, fire dangers and invasive species.
Among other things, the proposal seeks $138 million for storm water management and watershed restoration and $135 million for forest fuel reduction. Authorization is also sought for combating evasive species such as quagga mussels and Asian clams; restoring native Lahontan cutthroat trout; and scientific research.
Its introduction comes just weeks before the 17th annual Tahoe Summit is held Aug. 19 at Sand Harbor State Park on Tahoe's east shore.
The first Lake Tahoe Restoration Act was passed in 2000 and led to a cooperative effort that involved $424 million from the federal government and generated $1.6 billion total from state and local governments and private sources.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
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