Thanks to the effort of local participation, Lake Tahoe is cleaner than it has been in years.
The Clean Up The Lake scuba dive team put in an extraordinary effort to recover submerged litter around all 72 miles of Lake Tahoe’s shoreline. The effort originally started May 14, 2021, and has officially been completed.
In total, the dive team collected a whopping 24,797 pieces of litter, bringing the total weight removed to 25,281 pounds.
The project was made possible by a $100,000 matching donation from Tahoe Blue Vodka, and contributions from more than 135 Tahoe Fund donors, including Vail Resorts, the Nevada Division of State Lands’ Lake Tahoe License Plate program, and other local grant giving foundations.
“Despite winter weather over the past year, COVID and wildfire-related challenges, our dive team has been in the water at every opportunity to complete this unforgettable effort,” said Colin West, founder and executive director of Clean Up The Lake.
The dive team removed many expected and unexpected items along the water.
“Ultimately what we hope people remember is the length that one group of individuals was willing to go to in order to protect their home and their planet,” West said. “And in turn people should ask themselves how they are choosing to contribute to preserving our environment today.”
As divers circumnavigated the lake, they recovered not only plastic bottles, cans and other “typical” litter, but some unusual items that included engagement rings, 1980’s Nikon film cameras, entire lamp-posts, “no littering” signs, massive pieces of broken down boats and engine blocks, lost wallets, cordless home telephones, a blackberry mobile phone, and more.
“I still can’t quite grasp what our team has accomplished, completing this 72-mile clean-up is a testament to what our team is capable of. And we are just getting started,” West said.
The perseverance of the dive team and volunteers were obviously key elements of the clean-up efforts both in Lake Tahoe and other waterways in the region.
“Tahoe Blue Vodka sponsored this effort because we place tremendous value on the health of Lake Tahoe, not only because our vodka is inspired by its waters, but because it is such a huge part of what makes our community so special,” said Matt Levitt, Tahoe Blue Vodka founder.
Clean Up The Lake will collaborate with scientific institutions and environmental consultants to study the recovered litter to develop a better understanding of its impact on Lake Tahoe.
In addition, the Tahoe Fund with support from Tahoe Blue Vodka, recently announced it has commissioned artists to create a sculpture using some of the recovered items from the Lake.
“Surfaced,” a permanent art installation, will be featured at the new Tahoe South Events Center to educate visitors about what lies beneath Tahoe’s blue waters.
Clean Up The Lake announced that the organization will be performing clean-ups across four lakes this year, beginning as soon as next week.
This will include intensive monitoring projects on both Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake, a circumnavigated clean-up of Fallen Leaf Lake located within the Tahoe basin, and an expansion to the Mammoth Lakes region for the clean-up of June Lake.
MJD Capital Partners and Truckee Tahoe Lumber Company are new project partners to Clean Up The Lake’s next projects.
Past donors, including Tahoe Fund, Tahoe Blue Vodka, Nevada Division of State Lands Lake Tahoe License Plate program, Martis Fund, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation, Alpenglobal Capital and others continue to support their efforts.
Despite current support, Clean Up The Lake’s 2022 projects require additional funding. Donations can be made at www.cleanupthelake.org/donate.