Calling on all who love Lake Tahoe: Be Blue!

Many of us have learned how to “Be Green,” but in Tahoe, we have unique practices that help protect the Lake. Keep Tahoe Blue is calling on everyone to “Be Blue.” In this section, we try to provide you the resources and information to help you make informed decisions about your actions at Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe faces unique environmental challenges. The effort to protect it requires unique solutions. These practices primarily help preserve Tahoe’s famed water clarity, but they can be applied anywhere to help improve the quality of any waterway.

All of us can play a role in Keeping Tahoe Blue. Whether you are a visitor, resident, property owner, or recreationist, there are many things you can do to lower your impact.

Ten things you can do:

1. Ride your bike, walk, carpool, or take the trolley, ski shuttles and public transportation.

Excessive automobile use degrades air quality in the Basin and contributes to the decline in Tahoe’s clarity. Before you get in your car, think about how you might be able to consolidate trips, or opt for another mode of transportation. Tahoe has an extensive network of bike trails that is constantly being expanded. Visit for more information. Read more about alternative transportation options into and within Tahoe at our transportation page.

2. Choose low-impact recreation opportunities.

Choose lake-friendly activities such as kayaking, hiking, cycling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. You might find that you enjoy the lake in a new and different way.

3. Stay on trails when you hike or bike.

Straying from the trail causes erosion, one of the key problems causing Lake Tahoe’s declining clarity.

4. Stay educated and involved.

Educate yourself on local environmental issues and regulations. Joining the League to Save Lake Tahoe is a great way to learn about what’s happening in Lake Tahoe. Visit our Current Priorities page to learn more about important policy discussions. Put your knowledge to work and get involved with League events like our annual Tahoe Forest Stewardship Day. For more information on volunteering, contact us at 530.541.5388, or email


5. Pick up after your pet.

A common sight in Tahoe is cars parked on bare dirt driveways, on county easements, or right in the yard. This practice poses serious risks to Lake Tahoe. It increases erosion and compacts soil, preventing plants from growing. Plants and mulch help stabilize soil and allow it to absorb rain and snowmelt. As part of best management practices, property owners are required to restore dirt parking spaces, or pave these spaces if they have the development square footage available (called “coverage”). Sediment from dirt driveways washes into the nearest storm drain and into Lake Tahoe during rainfall and snowmelt. Paving your driveway will also reduce dust during the dry summer months.

Choose your paving material wisely: Many BMP installers provide innovative technologies that allow water to flow through the paving material, adding extra benefits for runoff and erosion prevention. Look for products called “pervious concrete” or “semi-pervious concrete.” Paving stones are also a highly beneficial method.

7. Make sure your wood stove is EPA compliant.

Wood smoke contributes to air quality problems. Smoke particles also end up in the lake, according to recent studies. If you have an old wood stove, look into purchasing a newer, EPA-certified stove or fireplace insert. View a list of EPA certified stoves. The federal government offers a 30 percent (up to $1,500) tax rebate on qualifying wood stoves. These typically use half the wood to generate the same amount of heat as an old stove, so you’ll save money and help the environment. Better yet, look into alternatives such as gas fireplaces and central heating. Watch a video on how a woodstove replacement program helped a town in Montana battle air pollution.

8. Install Best Management Practices on your property.

Property owners at Tahoe are mandated to install measures around their homes and businesses to help Keep Tahoe Blue. Best management practices, commonly called “BMPs,” are intended to help decrease runoff, erosion and pollution into Lake Tahoe. Each property poses different runoff issues, but typical BMPs include planting native plants, placing mulch on bare dirt, installing catchment basins in driveways and under eves, rooflines and downspouts, and placing a layer of stones under decks. 

To find out which BMP’s will work for your property, Nevada residents should contact the Nevada Tahoe Conservation District (775-586-1610) and California residents should contact the Tahoe Resource Conservation District (530-543-1501).

9. Use native plants when landscaping.
Native or adapted plants are easier to maintain, require little irrigation, and little or no fertilizer. Excess fertilizer from landscaping practices can flow into Lake Tahoe and feed algae. For tips on using native plants, download the Lake Tahoe Home Landscaping Guide (10 MB pdf).
10. Reduce your carbon footprint.
New research shows global climate change could affect Lake Tahoe in dramatic ways. Do your part to reduce your carbon footprint bytaking simple steps around your home or office to decrease energy use.
Bonus: Buy a Lake Tahoe Environmental License Plate.

Help Lake Tahoe by purchasing a California or Nevada Lake Tahoe license plate today.

Over 96 percent of the CA and NV Tahoe license plate fees go directly to environmental improvement projects sponsored by the California Tahoe Conservancy and the Nevada Department of State Lands, which include trails, parks, water quality, and restoration efforts at Lake Tahoe.

For more information on purchasing a Lake Tahoe license plate please click on Nevada or California.

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