California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and Sierra Club Tahoe Area Group Announce Lake Tahoe Lawsuit Victory


The Sierra Club Tahoe Area Group and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) are thrilled to announce victory in their lawsuit against herbicide discharges into the Tahoe Keys lagoons connected to Lake Tahoe. In January 2022, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a permit allowing the first ever discharge of herbicides into Lake Tahoe’s waters.

The Sierra Club and CSPA filed suit in El Dorado County Superior Court in June 2022 asking the Court to rule against the dangerous precedent set by the Board’s permit. The judge agreed with the Sierra Club and CSPA and vacated the permit to use herbicides in the Tahoe Keys. Jason Flanders and Kenya Rothstein of the Aqua Terra Aeris Law Group represented the Sierra Club and CSPA in this matter.

From the beginning of the Control Methods Test project and throughout the project’s environmental analysis and final permit processes, the Sierra Club Tahoe Area Group and CSPA commented that allowing the discharge of herbicides before non-chemical methods were fully analyzed and demonstrated not to work would violate the Board’s own regulations in their Basin Plan.

This court ruling released April 25, 2024 confirms that the Lahontan Board “abused its discretion in granting the exemption,” and ordered the Board to “vacate and set aside its approval of the project and any and all approvals” during project implementation. The Court also ordered the Board to withdraw its certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which the Court found deficient for not analyzing the reasonable possibility of repeated future applications of herbicides.

The Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association originally asked for multiple years of herbicide applications and is already beginning discussions about future herbicide applications. This ruling sends an important message to the Board and the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association regarding future applications for herbicide treatments. Non-chemical methods must be tested very thoroughly and proven ineffective before any herbicide treatments can be approved.

“We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling requiring the Board to follow its own rules,” said Tobi Tyler, volunteer with the Sierra Club’s Tahoe Area Group. “The Board violated the public trust and circumvented Basin Plan regulations that were diligently established after a great deal of public input and scrutiny.”

“Lake Tahoe is a national treasure, and I hope to help preserve it for my children to recreate in and appreciate. Using dangerous chemicals in this beautiful lake would have put it at risk, so I count this as a huge victory for our region,” said Olivia Tanager, Director of the Sierra Club’s Toiyabe Chapter.

CSPA’s Executive Director Chris Shutes said, ”CSPA is proud to work with the Sierra Club to protect Lake Tahoe’s iconic clean waters. Lake Tahoe is no place to be experimenting with herbicides, especially when non-chemical options are available.”


Since 1983, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance has been an advocate for fisheries, habitat, and water quality throughout California.

This entry was posted in Alerts & Advisories, Press Release. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.