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Senator Works To Help Lake Tahoe

Senator John Ensign says he has White House backing for his new plan to spend $30 million a year on restoration efforts at Lake Tahoe from money raised by selling federal land around Las Vegas.

The Nevada Republican predicts President Bush will sign the measure into law within two months. It would help make good on the federal government´s earlier pledge to spend $300 million over ten years as its share of a $900 million plan to combat the loss of clarity at the mountain lake. In Ensign´s words, “We´ve pretty much greased the skids on this.” He expects the money to be flowing before the end of the year.

Rochelle Nason is the executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe. She says the new funding mechanism is a giant leap forward. Tahoe´s clarity has declined roughly a foot a year over the past 40 years due to intense development around the Sierra Lake.

Once visible at depths of more than 100 feet, the white plate used to measure clarity could be seen as deep 78 feet on average in 2002. That´s the clearest it has been in 10 years, but researchers don´t know if it´s the result of scientific efforts to reverse the problem or part of a natural drought cycle.