Senate Steers $30 Million To Tahoe Projects

Lake Tahoe
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The Senate agreed Tuesday to steer $30 million annually from Clark County federal land sales to environmental projects at Lake Tahoe.

A Lake Tahoe amendment proposed by Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., was incorporated into a bill that sets Interior Department spending for 2004, Ensign spokesman Jack Finn said.

The bill would change the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act, the 1998 law that requires profits from the auction of excess federal land in the Las Vegas Valley to be distributed to schools, infrastructure upgrades and conservation projects in Nevada.

The change would add Lake Tahoe restoration projects as a recipient of annual funding from the sales.

Since the passage of the Southern Nevada act, 13 auctions have brought in $566 million.

The federal government and the states of Nevada and California have been cooperating to fund plans to restore the once crystalline waters of Lake Tahoe that have been dulled by erosion and runoff.

In 2000, Congress authorized spending $300 million over 10 years for Tahoe projects but has not fully funded the effort each year.

A corresponding House bill for the Interior Department doesn't contain the Lake Tahoe provision, so members of a House-Senate conference committee will need to make a final decision on the legislation.