My husband and I visited Lake Tahoe for the first time back in 2019, North Lake Tahoe to be specific. We didn’t get much time there unfortunately but we knew we needed to make it a priority to make it back soon. Fast forward a few years, given the state of the world, we didn’t get a chance to make it back to Lake Tahoe until spring of 2022. This time we would be visiting South Lake Tahoe, and what a time it was!
We were lucky enough to be visiting in collaboration with South Lake Tahoe Tourism to get a taste of their community involvement and what it really takes to keep up with one of America’s most popular vacation destinations.
About 15 million people visit Lake Tahoe every year, and with the recent boom of domestic travel, this number has only gone up in the last two years. In comparison, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons combined only get around 10 million visitors every year. Can you imagine? The infrastructure needed to keep up with these staggering numbers is impressive, and the local tourism is booming, so what’s the issue?
Those 15 million visitors aren’t all practicing the Leave No Trace Principles. Even if only half of those people drop 1 piece of trash, leave one food container, spill a tiny bit of gas, that number adds up quick doesnt it? Everyone who spends time in the outdoors should be familiar with the Leave No Trace Principles, if you aren’t, no worries let’s talk about them!
You can get more information on the official site here: https://lnt.org or here https://www.nps.gov/articles/leave-no-trace-seven-principles.htm
The 7 Principles:
Plan Ahead and Prepare
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Dispose of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
South Lake Tahoe has implemented multiple organizations to keep up with the ever growing trash and pollution problem: Take Care Tahoe, Keep Tahoe Blue and Clean Up the Lake. Most of these service Lake Tahoe as a whole, plus surrounding lakes and areas as well.
This is another amazing organization you can support and/or get involved with while on your trip. Clean Up The Lake was founded in 2018, starting as a beach clean up organization and has now transitioned into underwater specialization clean up as well. Since 2020, they have completed 61.71 Miles of Lake Tahoe’s 72 Mile Subsurface Shoreline. Update: They have officially completed all 72 miles of the planned cleanup!
If you are Scuba certified you can volunteer to help with any clean ups they have going on in Tahoe or surrounding lakes, or do your own clean up of local beaches and report it with the Take Care Tahoe app. The top 3 hot spots for litter accumulation are: 1. Zephyr Cove 2. Bonzai Rock 3. Marinas In General, so be on the lookout when you visit! We are responsible for helping keep Lake Tahoe as clean, beautiful and clear as possible. Read more about this here.
Clean Up The Lake doesn’t just focus on Lake Tahoe, they also have their sights set on other local lakes including Donner and Falling Leaf Lake. On their website you can choose to adopt a certain section of each lake to help support the clean up.
There are a few ways you can get involved with Clean Up The Lake. If you don’t live close by, the easiest option is to donate! This money goes to helping provide man power, supplies, boats, fuel, scuba equipment and more. You can also apply to be a general volunteer which includes kayaking, litter sorting, snorkeling, free diving, boat diving and jet skiing. If you are scuba certified make sure to check out their diving application!
Per their website, Keep Tahoe Blues mission is “The League to Save Lake Tahoe protects and restores the environmental health, sustainability and scenic beauty of the Lake Tahoe Basin. We focus on water quality and its clarity for the preservation of a pristine Lake for future generations.”
They tackle invasive species, combat pollution and focus on restoration. Some of their recent projects include researching wildfire impacts to build resilience, advanced solutions for traffic related pollution, and bolstered containment of aquatic invasive weeds.
Their newest project that I got to try out when volunteering is the Citizen Science Tahoe App. The free web app for Iphone and Android lets you report any litter or pollution citings with accurate detailing and photo capability. This helps them keep track of high trash areas or new water pollution issues that need to be addressed. The more eyes you can put on an area the better, and it only takes 5 minutes to report findings!
You can get involved by donating, downloading the app whenever you visit, subscribing to their email list and social media, rep the sticker, volunteering, attend a beach clean up and join Eyes on the Lake.
Take Care Tahoe is where you can find all current events and projects in one place. They always have current and future volunteer opportunities listed as well as learning centers to visit on your own time.
The website covers everything from backcountry safety to boat safety, as well as plenty of tips to be a Tahoe Good Doer while you visit!
Make sure to follow these amazing organizations on social media and sign up for any email lists so you can get involved on your next trip to Lake Tahoe! You can also check out Visit Lake Tahoe or my South Lake Tahoe Itinerary to get more information on planning a trip to the area.