Clean up the Lake shares plans for 2023

Submitted to the Sun
CUTL Programs Director Sadye Easler on Donner in 2020.
Provided / Clean up the Lake

Forty deep water and “hotspot” trash clean-ups are planned in Lake Tahoe and will be expanded to other lakes and reservoirs in the High Sierra

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – Following on the successful 72-mile clean-up of Lake Tahoe in 2022, the dive team that coordinated the effort is expanding its underwater clean-up plans in 2023. Clean Up The Lake, a nonprofit committed to fighting back against plastic and all forms of pollution both above and below the surface of its local waterways, will return to Lake Tahoe and nearby Fallen Leaf Lake, and also has plans to clean up Echo Lake, Boca and Stampede Reservoirs in Truckee and four different lakes in Mono County and the Mammoth Lakes Basin.

The CUTL dive team is already back in the water in Lake Tahoe, with plans to revisit 40 different dive sites around the lake in 2023. Three separate Tahoe-based projects will take place, focused on deep dive litter accumulation studies at 35 and 70 feet and also looking into “terrain traps,” or how the lake’s bathymetry, wind, currents and recreation affect litter accumulation trends throughout Lake Tahoe.  

Signage on Donner Lake placed by CUTL.
Provided / Clean up the Lake

“The projects we are doing in Lake Tahoe this year are building on what we’ve already accomplished and will help us better understand freshwater litter accumulation while guiding future work both here in Lake Tahoe and other freshwater lakes in need of our efforts,” said Colin West, founder and executive director of Clean Up The Lake. “We’re also really excited to launch the Youth Education Program in collaboration with the Pay It Forward Project. This new initiative will work to engage and educate young people in the Reno-Tahoe community on the importance of environmental conservation.”

This year, CUTL will complete the circumnavigated clean-up of Fallen Leaf Lake that started in 2022 and produced some of the highest underwater litter totals in the Tahoe Basin. The organization will also launch pilot research on Boca and Stampede Reservoirs in Truckee and Echo Lake near South Lake Tahoe, and return to Mono County and the Mammoth Lakes Basin to execute various projects on four different lakes.

Throughout their work in 2023, the team will also be implementing an extensive invasive species surveillance program they have developed; surveys have already been conducted around Donner Lake, June Lake and half of Fallen Leaf Lake’s circumference.

Last year, CUTL’s 72-mile clean-up effort in Lake Tahoe resulted in the removal of 25,282 pounds of small litter from the lake, while also GPS identifying 485 heavy lift objects slotted for future removal. This effort was just the beginning, as CUTL dive teams also removed an additional 25,000 pounds of debris from seven smaller lakes. One such lake was Donner Lake, where after their work this last year, over 13,000 pounds of litter has been removed.  With the support of various partnerships including Visit Mammoth, the organization was also able to expand its reach in the High Sierra in and around Mammoth Lakes.  

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