LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) – UC Davis has a plan that’s part science and part business that will increase the clarity of Lake Tahoe and make dog treats in the process.

Lake Tahoe is arguably one of the most beautiful mountain lakes in the world and one of the clearest, but the clarity of the lake has been declining in recent years and that has environmentalists worried.

“There’s a whole economy riding on the back of having an iconic lake and if the trend and clarity loss was to continue, then would people keep coming to Tahoe?” said Director of Lake Tahoe Environmental Research Center Geoff Schladow.

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Researchers at UC Davis say part of the reason the clarity is going down is due to trillions of tiny shrimp. Mysis shrimp were brought into Lake Tahoe in the 1960s as food for fish, but those shrimp nearly wiped out native zooplankton and changed the balance of the lake.

Now a team from UC Davis plans to remove as many of the shrimp they can and turn them into dog food. Omega 3’s are very popular in dog treats because they are beneficial for joint, skin, and coat health.

Environmentalists say mysis shrimp are a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids — even more than salmon. With the help of food scientists at UC Davis, and guidance from the Vet School… they are in the prototype phase now.

“Our pets can be more than just pets that we hug and have fun with but really coworkers in trying to save the planet and the environment,” said Yuan Cheng, a professor at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. We believe that setting this up as a non-profit with our primary goal to be cleaning up the lake for environmental purposes first, and then hopefully being able to cover the cost of that operation.”

The plan is to harvest the shrimp in Emerald Bay over the next 3-4 months… which would result in about 12,000 dog treats.

The team also has plans to remove shrimp in Flathead Lake in Montana, then come back to Tahoe.