Record numbers turn out to clean up Truckee, North Tahoe | SierraSun.com
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Record numbers turn out to clean up Truckee, North Tahoe

Michelle Gartner
Special to the Sierra Sun

Truckee and North Lake Tahoe got a bit of a facelift last week. A record number of volunteers emerged from sheltering in place to pick up trash during Truckee Day. Simultaneous cleanup events across North Lake Tahoe added to that number, collectively picking up over 9,880 pounds of trash.

The virus didn’t keep people from supporting their communities and may have inspired more to get involved. On June 6, Kings Beach, Tahoe Vista, Carnelian Bay and Crystal Bay over 120 people registered for North Tahoe Business Association’s 25th annual Clean Up Day matching and potentially exceeding previous years.

To get youth involved the association held a contest, asking young artists to create a poster highlighting the spirit of keeping the community beautiful. The winner, 11-year-old Harper Stirling, holds the honor of having her artwork displayed on posters to promote Clean Up Days.

Alyssa Reilly, executive director, answered some questions about the event.

How different was Clean Up Day this year?

“The biggest difference was we had people sign up online and they could use their own bags to clean up around their home, then leave the bags on a street corner. In previous years we had just one location, we were also assigning where people would go to clean up. This year we’ve got four check-in locations to spread things out and we’re not assigning cleanup locations.”

“In years past we’ve only done this one time a year.” The North Tahoe Business Association has added a second Clean Up Day on Sept. 26. (northtahoebusiness.org/clean-up-days). “Our goal is to make it a big item cleanup day with multiple Dumpsters. We hoped to do that this weekend, but with all the restrictions that wasn’t possible.

“One of the big problems we see here are the large dumped items on the street corners — the mattresses that sit there for two or three months, the washer that’s been there for a year now — so I think it would be really great to do that. We don’t know what restrictions will be in place by September, but we’re hopeful.”

Is there more enthusiasm this year?

“A lot of what I’ve heard is ‘I’m so excited to get my kids out to do this.’ People are using it as a family day. There’s a ton of excitement.”

The Town of Truckee has been hosting Truckee Day for 17 years and this year saw significantly more volunteers cleaning up the town, double the number from two years prior. “Even with these difficult times our community was able to come together in improving our environment,” said Erica Merents, recycling program manager with the Town of Truckee.

What things did you do differently this year?

“Truckee Day always ends in a community BBQ at the Regional Park to celebrate our community’s cleanup efforts. This was canceled this year. We also took more measures to ensure contact free check-in at the 22 community check in stations around town.” Volunteers were given specific areas to clean and the amount of garbage collected in each area was tracked.

Why do you think there was less garbage collected this year compared to previous years?

“It’s hard to say what impacts the tonnage, in heavier snow years we have more collected, whereas lower snow years it doesn’t accumulate and people may tend to pick it up. There’s a lot of variables. I would like to think that we’re doing a better job with the ongoing litter cleanups.”

How do you use the data?

“We use the data to help inform what areas may require more attention for future cleanups or follow up with business areas that may have noticeable litter issues. We also use the data to help inform our engineers monitor stormwater trash tracking and help gauge our level of community engagement and participation.

“We will be directing our Truckee Litter Corps volunteers towards areas of higher litter concentration.”

Truckee Litter Corps (TLC) (keeptruckeegreen.org/truckee-litter-corps) meets the first Saturday of each month to clean up Truckee Streets and Trails. TLC is a volunteer led litter clean up group supported by Keep Truckee Green, Town of Truckee’s Solid Waste and Recycling Division.

The Tahoe City Downtown Association and League to Save Lake Tahoe hosted a virtual Tahoe City Clean Up. People were encouraged to clean up around their homes between 9 a.m. and noon, participants could play Keep Tahoe Blue Litter Bingo by downloading a Bingo card from keeptahoeblue.org. The bingo cards are used by League to Save Lake Tahoe to track the various types of garbage found around the lake.

Statistics were not available from Tahoe City’s cleanup as of press time.

Michelle Gartner is a freelance writer who lives in Kings Beach.


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