Lake County has lost a $1 million state budget allocation aimed at restoring and protecting Clear Lake, but it will be gaining expertise that is expected to go a long way toward obtaining other funding sources.
While Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the Clear Lake allocation in the state’s new $167.6 billion budget last week, he also directed the state Water Resources Control Board and Department of Fish and Wildlife to send staff to Lake County to help officials identify and apply for grant funds to improve the lake’s water quality.
“Gov. Brown realized this was a good trade,” said Jim Steele, a Lake County supervisor and retired Fish and Wildlife biologist who worked on the proposal.
As insiders, the state wildlife and water agencies’ staff will be able to provide crucial input and make the county more competitive in the grant process, he said.
Along with letters of support, it will “give us a leg up,” Steele said.
Staff from the two agencies also will work with state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Assemblyman Bill Dodd, D-Napa, who have been lobbying for funding to help clear up water quality issues at Clear Lake, including excessive algal blooms that can be a deterrent to recreation and tourism.
“We are really encouraged by the strong commitment from the governor and his team,” McGuire said.
The 68-square-mile natural lake is the county’s main attraction, offering boating, fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing.
The county has made numerous efforts to improve the lake’s water quality, including initiating a 1,650-acre wetlands restoration project along its north shore. It also has implemented a program aimed at keeping invasive mussels out of the lake.
County officials last year sought to raise $24 million over 10 years for lake enhancements through a sales tax, but voters rejected that measure, the second such effort in two years.
Work on the grants is expected to begin as early as this month and funding could become available within a year, Steele said.
You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @MendoReporter.