Why should we protect Tahoe's shoreline?

One of Lake Tahoe’s greatest assets is its beautiful shoreline. The vast majority of people enjoy the lake’s clarity from its shallow areas, whether they are at a beach, paddling along the shore or hiking along breathtaking cliffs and boulders. That's why one of the League's top priorities is to safeguard Tahoe's shoreline clarity and cleanliness.

Unfortunately, Tahoe’s shoreline beauty is deteriorating rapidly in some areas. We often see algal blooms, water weeds, non-native Asian clams and silt along the shoreline. These are signs that the shoreline ecosystem is rapidly changing.

Our vision for Tahoe's shore:

Clear, clean, inspiring to all recreationists, and supporting habitat for native wildlife, fish and plants.

The culprits of shoreline degredation

Invasive clams and mussels

Climate change and warmer water temperatures that are more hospitable to invasive species

Shoreline structures that disrupt views or result in increased pollution

Water weeds


Stormwater runoff containing nutrients, road sand and other sediment

Nutrients from fertilizer, animal waste, sediment, and boat pollution close to shore

Non-native fish

Our four programs dedicated to protecting Tahoe's shoreline

Eyes on the Lake

We're keeping weeds out of our shore. Invasive species are unsightly and disrupt Tahoe's shoreline ecosystem in dramatic ways. This exciting citizen science program trains community members to identify and report new infestations so agencies can stomp them out when they are still small.

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Pipe Keepers

Urban stormwater runoff is the largest source of pollution to Lake Tahoe and the biggest threat to its clarity. Most people are shocked to learn that drainage pipes still dump stormwater runoff containing road sand and pollutants directly into our lake. We're engaging volunteers to monitor what's dumping into the lake with the hopes of motivating policy makers to prioritize infrastructure improvements where turbidity violations are the most serious.

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Beach Cleanups

We're engaging hundreds of volunteers and removing hundreds of pounds of trash each summer and fall. Regular cleanup days keep our beaches clean and healthy for everyone to enjoy. Trash can be harmful and even fatal to wildlife, damage the local economy, pose a human health hazard, as well as contribute to Lake Tahoe’s clarity loss. 

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Advocating for Smart Policies

For over 60 years, the League has been the lake's strongest watchdog, influencing policy to protect water quality. Our staff is now participating in time-intensive work to make sure development plans throughout the lake are environmentally sound. We're working to ensure each jurisdiction's area plans include strong standards, stormwater management and restoration programs that will halt the lake's clarity loss. We are also collaborating in the development of a new Shoreline Plan.

All of our volunteer programs include educational components where participants learn lessons about their environmental footprint at the lake that will last a lifetime.

Here's what we've already done for Tahoe's shoreline

Plastic Bag Ban

Plastic bags litter waterways and endanger wildlife. The League, Sierra Nevada Alliance and members of the city's former sustainability commission convinced the South Lake Tahoe City Council to ban plastic bags in 2013.

Keeping two states united in environmental protection

We were instrumental in convincing leaders in California and Nevada to renew their commitment to Tahoe's unique bi-state Compact in 2013. We believe that Tahoe can't be protected unless the two states, five counties and one city that share its shoreline all follow the same environmental goals and policies. Preserving unique agreement was our biggest accomplishment of 2013.

Boat Inspections

The League helped put Tahoe's boat inspection ordinance on the books in 2008 and was the first organization to raise funds for the program. Inspections are critical to preventing invasion of aquatic invasive species, particularly the devastating quagga and zebra mussels, that could permanently disrupt Tahoe’s shoreline ecosystem. All boats entering Tahoe's waters are inspected for aquatic hitchhikers, and to ensure they are properly tuned and maintained to prevent excess pollution.

Tahoe Keepers

The League helped to launch Tahoe Keepers. Since its inception in 2011, the program has trained over 900 non-motorized watercraft users to inspect their boats for invasive species.

Two-stroke Jet Ski Ban

One of our greatest accomplishments resulted in a 90 percent reduction in gasoline pollution on the lake.

Restoration Funding & the Environmental Improvement Program

We partnered with a wide range of stakeholders and with Tahoe's congressional representatives to push for passage of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2000. This funding has proven crucial to upgrading old drainage infrastructure and restoring disturbed wetlands, so that less pollution reaches the lake. We also helped launch the EIP, a program that has brought over $1.5 billion to Tahoe for restoration projects that help prevent pollution from flowing into the lake. In 2013, Tahoe's deepwater clarity had improved to the best number in 10 years, and scientists said these restoration projects could be working.

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