Nevada Lake Tahoe Permitting

Use of State-Owned Sovereign Land at Lake Tahoe

When Nevada was admitted into the Union in 1864, all navigable bodies of water, including rivers and lakes, were conveyed to the State as part of the equal footing doctrine. These navigable waters were either used or likely to be used for commerce. Through the Submerged Land Act of 1953, Congress reaffirmed its intent to convey navigable waters and tidelands to the states. These waters, including Lake Tahoe, are considered to be Sovereign Lands and are held by the State in the Public Trust for navigation, fisheries and related purposes.

Approximately one third of the surface area of Lake Tahoe is located in the State of Nevada. The Lake is managed as a water storage reservoir, with the upper six feet of capacity (to elevation 6229.1 above sea level) available for downstream users and controlled by dam outflows to the Truckee River. By an Attorney General’s Opinion (1976-204, pg 23 of link), the extent of State jurisdiction extends to the ordinary high water mark as it existed at statehood before the dam was constructed, that being elevation 6223 feet above sea level. Today, this elevation is commonly referred to as the low water line or natural rim of Lake Tahoe. As authorized by the State of Nevada under NRS 322, the Division of State Lands (NDSL) retains permitting authority for any structures on the lakebed, including those lying between 6223 and 6229.1 feet in elevation for the purposes of protecting navigability of the Lake. The State permits all piers, buoys, breakwaters, boat houses and hoists, water intake lines and other littoral structures on State-owned Sovereign Land. Please review NAC 322.195 for annual use fees associated with state-owned sovereign lands.

Use of Environmentally Sensitive State-Owned Parcels

Lake Tahoe faced a dilemma when unchecked development in the 1950s and 1960s began threatening water clarity and the environmental health of the Basin. The Tahoe Bond Act (1986) and subsequent programs provided funding for the purchase of sensitive parcels at Lake Tahoe to prevent environmental decline and protect water quality. These parcels are recognized as environmentally sensitive and managed as conservation areas as an important part of the State’s commitment to preserving the water quality and clarity of Lake Tahoe. Temporary use of these parcels for snow storage or other short-term uses may be permitted provided that the natural landscape is not disturbed and property owners obtain prior authorization for any activities by NDSL through the permitting process.


Other Tahoe Permitting Agencies

*A permit issued by the Division of State Lands does not relieve the Permittee from acquiring all local, regional, state, and federal permits and approvals as required by law.  The activity that you are applying for (ie buoy deployment, pier modification, dredging, etc) is not authorized and made legal until you have acquired all local, regional, state, and federal permits and approvals.  Failure to do so will constitute a violation of the terms and conditions of the permit and the permit may be revoked.

Nevada Tahoe Basin County Parcel Information Sites

Applicants can get parcel information to help complete the application by visiting the county sites below.

TRPA Service Provider Directory- provided to help those needing planning and consulting services for Tahoe projects. The Division of State Lands can not make recommendations regarding consultant service providers.


Mail to our office or Drop off completed applications between the hours of

8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday Through Friday

901 S Stewart St.Suite 5003
Carson City, NV 89701
Phone: 775-684-2700

Application Fees are Non-Refundable! Credit cards are not accepted

Looking for the Land Coverage application? Please click here to go to our Nevada Land Bank Page

Large File Upload Instructions - please use our FTP site for large documents.