Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part I (02/01/2016)

Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2015

This bill revises and reauthorizes through FY2025 the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act.

(Sec. 4) The bill adds additional requirements for the management of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, including by requiring the U.S. Forest Service to coordinate with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state and local agencies, county governments, local governments, and local fire departments. The Forest Service must also conduct forest management activities in the basin in a manner that: (1) helps achieve and maintain the environmental threshold carrying capacities established by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency; and (2) promotes multiple ecosystem benefits, unless such activities would excessively increase the cost of a program. (The environmental threshold carrying capacities are the environmental standards necessary to maintain a significant scenic, recreational, educational, scientific or natural value of the region or to maintain public health and safety within the region.)

The bill excludes certain activities that reduce forest fuels in the basin management unit from the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).

The bill establishes a binding arbitration process for challenges to forest management activities in the basin management unit.

The basin management unit must support the attainment of the environmental threshold carrying capacities and identify and pursue the means to expand those capacities. The environmental threshold carrying capacities are the environmental standards necessary to maintain a significant scenic, recreational, educational, scientific or natural value of the region or to maintain public health and safety within the region.

During FY2016-FY2020, the Forest Service may enter into contracts or cooperative agreements with public and private entities to provide for fuel reduction, erosion control, reforestation, and similar management activities on federal land and nonfederal land within the programs in the basin. The term for an agreement or contract may be more than 10 years, but no more than 20 years.

The Forest Service must retain any commercial product funds generated as part of forest management activities or cooperative activities conducted in the basin management unit, other than certain stewardship contracts.

(Sec. 5) The Forest Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the EPA, in coordination with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the states of California and Nevada, may carry out or provide financial assistance to certain programs in the basin concerning: (1) fire risk reduction and forest management, and (2) aquatic invasive species management.

The bill establishes civil penalties for launching watercrafts into the basin that are not compliant with invasive species strategies deployed under the bill.

(Sec. 6) The Corps of Engineers may enter into interagency agreements with nonfederal interests in the basin and use Lake Tahoe Partnership-Miscellaneous General Investigations funds for providing technical assistance for forest management or invasive species control activities.

The Forest Service, the EPA, the USFWS, and the USGS must coordinate with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to conduct public education and outreach programs.

The Forest Service, the EPA, the USFWS, and the USGS, in coordination with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the states of California and Nevada, must develop and implement a plan for monitoring, assessment, and research to evaluate the effectiveness of programs funded under this bill.

(Sec. 8) The bill outlines how fees collected for special uses within the basin may be used.

(Sec. 9) The bill amends the Santini-Burton Act to authorize: (1) a donation from the California Tahoe Conservancy and the California Department of Parks and Recreation to the Forest Service of 1,981 acres of land administered by the Conservancy and 187 acres of land administered by California State Parks; and (2) a transfer from the Forest Service to Nevada of 39 acres of land known as the Van Sickle Unit USFS Inholding.

The bill authorizes the Forest Service to convey all of its urban lots within the basin. The proceeds from conveying urban lots must be used to purchase parcels of private land that are surrounded by federal land.

(Sec. 11) Projects conducted by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency that will use a registered herbicide to eradicate Eurasian watermilfoil and curlyleaf pondweed from the south end of Lake Tahoe, known as the Lake Tahoe Keys, are categorically excluded from the requirements of the NEPA.