Tahoe beaches yield a quarter of last year’s litter

Volunteers picked up less than a ton of trash during the annual July 5 clean-up.

Volunteers picked up less than a ton of trash during the annual July 5 clean-up.
Katy Jo Caringer | ECO-CLEAN Solutions

Volunteers arrived to find relatively clean beaches and trails on Friday, a big turnaround from last year’s Filth of July at Zephyr Shoals Beach that made national headlines.

More volunteers and less than a quarter of the trash made the clean-up far easier, according to the League to Save Lake Tahoe.

“In total, participants removed 1,866 pounds of trash, not even a quarter of what volunteers removed on July 5, 2023,” according to the League. “Above and below water teams with Clean Up The Lake removed an additional 125 pounds.”

That’s compared to the 8,598 pounds of litter found across Lake Tahoe’s beaches with three quarters of that just from the beach near the old Dreyfus Estates.

At Zephyr Shoals, the scene was calm, according to the League. Temporary fencing, a prohibition on outside alcohol, and extra staffing also contributed to the holiday. 

News of the mess was also credited with increasing the number of volunteers this year from 402 to 774.

“Drawing international attention to Tahoe’s litter challenges, and rallying partners to apply innovative solutions, this July 5 brought signs of success,” the League said on Friday.

Volunteers helped clean more than a half-dozen beaches across the Lake.

“Fortunately, their hard work didn’t take much time, as they arrived to mostly clean stretches of sand, trails, and streets,” officials said, citing the new Tahoe Blue Beaches program, a solution designed with Basin partners to address litter on beaches.

“Look around at all these volunteers,” said long-time cleanup participant Naomi Morgan. “There are so many smiles and such positive energy. I think people are happy to be here, pitch in, and protect Tahoe.”

Since 2013, the League has conducted beach and community cleanup events where its volunteers gather not just litter but also data on what types of trash they find, where and how much.

The volunteer turnout for this year’s event set a new record, surpassing the previous high by more than 200 individuals and showing the public’s commitment to take care of Tahoe.

But between the volunteers and BeBot, the beach cleaning robot, volunteers found only a touch more than the average litter collected in past clean-ups.

“Today, we saw clear evidence that people went out of their way to protect Tahoe – that includes land managers, an amazing number of volunteers and partners, and the tens of thousands of people who spent their holiday on the beach,” said League Senior Community Engagement Manager Marilee Movius. “Thank you for helping to Keep Tahoe Blue. Now, let’s keep this going through the weekend and all summer.”

Other groups and individuals cleaned up their local beaches and neighborhoods after the holiday, too. These independent, grassroots efforts are another key ingredient to ensuring the Tahoe environment stays healthy and beautiful.

“We had visitors from around the world enjoying the beaches and amenities at Zephyr Cove Resort & Shoals,” said Aramark Destinations District Manager Kevin Schiesz. “We are thankful to all our team members and partners who worked together to create a safe, enjoyable and memorable experience. This was the first year we managed the Shoals area, and we are pleased with the great outcome this year to protect and preserve its natural environment.”

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