Lake Guardians Without Borders: The Tahoe-Chile Partnership

Jesse Patterson | League to Save Lake Tahoe
March 18, 2024

Hello from Chile! 

I’m Jesse Patterson, Chief Strategy Officer here at the League. I’m thrilled to share with you the ongoing journey of international collaboration between the League to Save Lake Tahoe and Chile Lagos Limpios, our lake-protecting counterparts from the southern hemisphere. 

Jesse Patterson in Chile

As someone deeply committed to the cause of environmental conservation, returning to Chile feels like a homecoming. This trip marks a significant chapter in our global partnership, one that the U.S. Embassy has graciously facilitated, allowing us to forge meaningful connections with Chilean decision makers, conservation-minded businesses, and the incredible team at Chile Lagos Limpios. 

Since the League’s start 66 years ago, our mission has been and remains to Keep Tahoe Blue. But what if our knowledge, experience, successes, and lessons learned could save more than just one lake? It’s about setting a precedent for lake conservation worldwide. This philosophy brought us to Chile, a country with breathtaking natural beauty and a small but burgeoning commitment to protecting the jaw-droppingly beautiful lakes – 23 of them – in its Northern Patagonian region. 

In 2018, we embarked on this cross-continental collaboration to share the lessons learned from Tahoe’s decades-long conservation journey with the leaders of Chile’s environmental movement. Over the years, the League has repointed Tahoe’s path away from exploitation and toward responsible enjoyment for the long term. That shift was thanks to community effort, science-based policies, and relentless advocacy. These lessons can help safeguard Chile’s Northern Patagonian lakes – jewels just as precious as Tahoe. 

During my previous visits, I had the privilege of meeting diverse groups, from local government officials and grassroots organizations to corporate partners like Aquachile. Each encounter has reinforced my belief in the power of collaboration. For instance, seeing Aquachile move its salmon farming operations out of rivers and lakes to protect water quality underscores how businesses can play a pivotal role in conservation. 

One of the most inspiring moments from my last visit was presenting at the U.S. Embassy-hosted seminar in Puerto Varas. Discussing sustainable development and seeing the community’s enthusiasm for protecting their lakes was a testament to the progress being made. It’s clear that when communities, businesses, and governments unite, no environmental challenge is too great. 

On my current trip, as I reconnect with colleagues and international friends, I’m seeing the progress that’s been made since my first visit. I’m filled with hope and excitement for the future. Our partnership with Chile Lagos Limpios is more than just an exchange of ideas; it’s a shared commitment to preserve our planet’s natural treasures. The similarities between Lake Tahoe and the lakes of Northern Patagonia are striking, not just in their beauty but in the challenges they face. Together, we’re learning, adapting, and striving for a future where every lake, every drop of water, is valued and protected. 

I look forward to welcoming our Chilean friends back to Tahoe someday soon, perhaps with some of their sustainably farmed salmon in hand. But while I’m still in Chile, I am more excited to provide valuable insight into some of Chile Lagos Limpios’ most significant challenges, and to bring home important lessons that can help Keep Tahoe Blue, too. Join me on my journey through Chile by following the League on social media.  



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