Volunteers hit beach for Lake Tahoe post-July 4 cleanup
South Lake Tahoe, Calif. — Nearly 300 volunteers picked up beaches around Lake Tahoe on Sunday following the big July 4 fireworks show.
Coordinated by the League to Save Lake Tahoe, volunteers helped clean more than four-and-half miles at nine locations around the Lake, including Regan Beach, Lakeview Commons, Tallac Historic Site, Timber Cover, Nevada Beach, Zephyr Shoals, Kings Beach, and Commons Beach in Tahoe City.
According to the League, volunteers collected 1,600 pounds of trash from all nine sites, including 5,266 pieces of plastic such as caps, bottles, utensils, and straws as well as 4,053 cigarette butts.
Piles of trash lingered around the trash bins from Lakeview Commons Beach to Regan Beach in South Lake Tahoe, left there the night before by the thousands of spectators watching the fireworks displays.
Kenny Curtzwiler and his crew from K&K Services began hauling trash into the back of trucks beginning at 6 a.m. Curtzwiler has been doing his own cleanup for the past 17 years.
“In 1998, some friends and I came to the beach to party, I looked around and I thought who is going to clean this up,” Cutzwiler said. “We just come every year.”
Curtzwiler said the first 15 years no one knew Curtzwiler’s crew was cleaning it up. He added that Jeff Tillman from South Tahoe Refuse has been a great support, giving him the key to the dump for the Sunday cleanup.
His crew hauled out approximately 2,500 pounds of trash, down from 4,200 pounds last year.
Jesse Patterson, deputy director for the League to Save Lake Tahoe, said volunteers like Curtzwiler’s crew were invaluable.
“Without these guys helping, it would be impossible,” Patterson said. “These guys get the big stuff but if you scour the beach afterward with a bunch of volunteers, you’re getting everything.”
League community engagement manager Marilee Movius said the trash could harm the lake’s environment if left uncollected.
“These plastics photodegrade and break into small pieces. These can look like food to wildlife and leach chemicals when in the water,” Movius said.
This year, Vail Resorts sent volunteers from Kirkwood Mountain Resort and Heavenly Mountain Resort to help clean up. The Lake Tahoe Humane Society also provided support, including information on animal waste.
Frank Papandrea, environmental manager for Heavenly Mountain Resort, said it made sense for both Heavenly and Kirkwood to participate in the event.
Some of the more common items picked up included cigarette butts, broken glass bottles and cans. One of the more unique items picked up from the beach was a couch, which was deposited near the stairs leading up to the street from Regan Beach.
Volunteer Terry Myers said the beach cleanup was her first and said it was amazing the amount of trash initially hauled out by Curtzwiler’s team.
“What’s disappointing is that because this has become a cleanup event, people just leave their trash to be picked up instead of taking it with them,” Myers said.
On the roadways front, a South Tahoe nonprofit Clean Tahoe removed 400 pounds of trash around the Stateline area on Sunday.
According to Catherine Cecchi, Clean Tahoe’s executive director, the largest area was around Stateline Avenue and Lakeshore Boulevard, where volunteers collected nine 30-gallon bags worth of litter.
The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority-Tahoe Douglas Visitors Authority tackled firework cleanups along the east shore, including 4H Beach, Tahoe Shores, Nevada Beach and Round Hill Pines.