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Tackling winter litter at Spooner Summit

League to Save Lake Tahoe
November 11, 2022

There’s snow on the ground in Tahoe, and it is a glorious sight to behold. In fact, some of the resorts are opening up early for skiing and riding, and the sled hills, snowshoe tracks and cross-country trails are already getting lots of love.

While you’re enjoying Tahoe this winter, be extra mindful to not leave anything behind. Our data shows that litter is a serious problem in the winter, just as it is in the summer.

For instance, the unofficial sled hill at Spooner Summit is an annual hotbed of winter-time pollution. During the winter of 2020-21, approximately 3,000 pounds of trash were removed – almost 2,000 pounds of which was collected by one of our dedicated Tahoe Blue Crews, Team Uppaway.

Based on those shocking numbers, we knew something needed to change. Last winter, 2021-22, the League paid to place a dumpster and two portable restrooms at the site from January 15, 2021  to April 7, 2022. During that time, Team Uppaway only collected 126 pounds of trash, and the dumpster intercepted 2,000 pounds of would-be litter.

Clearly, Spooner Summit needs better facilities. Despite our countless attempts to persuade the site’s managers, the Nevada Department of Transportation and USDA Forest Service, to take steps to fight litter, they have not. So the League is once again applying for a permit to install a dumpster and portable restrooms. Though the solution is not sustainable, we can’t sit by and do nothing, or expect our passionate volunteers to clean up the mess.

A winter day at the Spooner Summit sled hill. Note the pile of broken plastic sleds. Photo: Tahoe Fund.

Bagged trash

The typical results of a weekly Tahoe Blue Crew cleanup at Spooner Summit before the League installed dumpsters and portable toilets.

Cleanup at Spooner Summit sled hill

Volunteers clean up trash at Spooner Summit sled hill in the spring of 2021. Photo: Tahoe Daily Tribune

Dumpsters at portable toilets at the Spooner Summit sled hill.

Dumpsters and portable toilets at the Spooner Summit sled hill in the winter of 2021-22.