Over 320 community members clean shrunken Tahoe beaches, collect 1,676 pounds of trash

Jul 6, 2017:
Volunteers celebrate after the cleanup at Kings Beach.
Volunteers celebrate after the cleanup at Kings Beach.

Over 320 residents and visitors gathered yesterday to clean 5.6 miles of Lake Tahoe beaches and trails, collecting 1,676 pounds of litter in cooperation with land managers and local businesses at cleanups organized by the League to Save Lake Tahoe (Keep Tahoe Blue).

“Over the weekend, Lake Tahoe hit its high water mark for the first time in years, leaving many of Tahoe’s beaches partly or fully underwater,” said Marilee Movius, the League’s community engagement manager. “With July Fourth celebrations crowded onto the remaining patches of dry ground, our volunteers collected litter that could have been harmful to wildlife and Lake Tahoe’s water quality.”

Each year, Tahoe’s nationally famous July Fourth celebrations leave the shoreline thrashed with trash. In recent weeks, heat waves have added over 12 billion gallons of snowmelt to the Lake.

Volunteers joined the League at six meeting spots to help clean up litter from some of the hardest-hit beaches. These cleanups support those land managers who have cleanup staff and fill an even more critical gap for those who have none.

“We hope that someday we’ll discover that every Tahoe beachgoer has packed out their litter, but we’re not there yet,” said Jesse Patterson, the League’s deputy director. “Until then, we’re heartened to see so many community members pitch in to make a difference in protecting Tahoe’s shoreline.

As a science-based, solutions-oriented organization, the League and its volunteers gather detailed statistics on the types of litter found to better advocate for solutions. This year, the top trash items removed were cigarette butts (5,242) and plastic pieces (6,357) — plastic pieces includes plastic bottle caps, straws and polystyrene pieces. Volunteers also collected over 1,100 food wrappers.

“Plastics, including cigarette filters, not only pose a risk to Lake Tahoe’s ecology and wildlife, they never break down in the environment,” said Movius. “This year, the League is excited to ship every cigarette butt and piece of hard plastic we collected to TerraCycle to be recycled in the U.S. into new products.”

The League is grateful to our partnering land managers, including California Land Management, California State Parks, the City of South Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe City Public Utility District, and the United States Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Our cleanups are made possible by the support of our cleanup site sponsors, local Tahoe businesses: Alpenglow Sports, Brand Geek, Lakeview Cafe, Montbleu Resort and Casino, and RnR Vacation Rentals.

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The League to Save Lake Tahoe, also known by the slogan “Keep Tahoe Blue,” is Tahoe's oldest and largest nonprofit environmental advocacy organization. The League is dedicated to community engagement and education, and collaborating to find solutions to Tahoe's environmental challenges. The League's main campaigns include combatting pollution, promoting restoration, tackling invasive species and protecting Tahoe's shoreline. 

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