Stewards of the land: Volunteers clean up Tahoe, Truckee at pair of cleanup events

More than 3.4 tons of trash was removed from the Sierra Nevada as hundreds of volunteers combed dozens of sites during the 11th annual Great Sierra River Cleanup.

“Participation in the Great Sierra River Cleanup was amazing again this year,” Julie Alvis, Sierra Nevada Conservancy deputy executive officer, said in a news release. “The incredibly high number of volunteers and the energy they brought today just goes to show how much Californians care about nature and the Sierra Nevada.”

The annual event is coordinated by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy in partnership with several community groups, and is run in conjunction with the California Coastal Cleanup Day.

During the past decade, volunteers at the cleanup have removed nearly 860 tons of trash, according to Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and have cleaned more then 3,000 miles of river in the Sierra watersheds.

Some of the items reportedly collected at the cleanup include shopping carts, scrap metal, furniture, and a butane tank from 1942.

The cleanup also marked the end of Sierra Nevada Watershed Protection Week.

Tahoe Forest Stewardship Day

Last Saturday also marked the 22nd annual Tahoe Forest Stewardship Day in South Lake Tahoe.

More than 70 community members showed up for the League to Save Lake Tahoe’s first volunteer event at recently acquired Johnson Meadow to restore sensitive habitat along the Upper Truckee River.

“Hands-on restoration work is one of the most important actions we can take to Keep Tahoe Blue,” Marilee Movius, the league’s community engagement manager, said in a news release. “And many hands make for lighter work to help out our busy land managers.”

Johnson Meadow had been one of the last remaining pieces of privately owned land along the Upper Truckee River until it was acquired in 2018 by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District.

Led by the League to Save Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, teams of volunteers worked for several hours on Saturday to secure roughly 100 yards of crumbling stream bank with native willow plants to prevent sediment from eroding into the river and clouding Lake Tahoe’s waters. Native grasses and Aspen groves in the meadow were aided through the removal of nearly 5,000 invasive weeds and 138 pine trees that were choking out and competing with these native species. Dead trees, old barbed wire fencing, litter and debris were also removed.

“Tahoe (Resource Conservation District) is extremely grateful to all the volunteers who showed up on Saturday and worked so hard to help restore Johnson Meadow,” Nicole Cartwright, executive director for the conservation district, said in a news release. “We look forward to continuing to work with our community in the years to come to restore, protect and enhance this beautiful place.”

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at

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