Keep Tahoe Blue hosts Fourth of July ‘hangover’ cleanup

Ashleigh Goodwin /
Zephyr Shoals on July 5th 2023
Provided / Keep Tahoe Blue

KINGS BEACH, Calif. – Keep Tahoe Blue hosted its 10th annual “Keep Tahoe Red, White and Blue” July 5th clean up but rather than celebrating its decade milestone, the League witnessed a “tragic landfill” appearance of one of Tahoe’s most treasured beaches. 

After a spectacular display celebrating the Independence Day, spectators left behind nauseating amounts of trash.

8,559lbs of discarded cigarette butts, plastic food wrappers, beach toys and even barbecues were collected over the course of 3 hours. A total of 402 volunteers worked six locations around the lake according to a statement released by Keep Tahoe Blue.

Dr. Darcie Goodman Collins, CEO of the League to Save Lake Tahoe said, “To Keep Tahoe Blue, everyone who enjoys this place must act more like our volunteers and partners by doing their part. It starts with leaving nothing behind and picking up any trash you come across. Unless each of us share in the responsibility for protecting this place, it could be ruined.”   

6,279 pounds of trash, 73% of the day’s totals, was collected from Zephyr Shoals, an unmanaged stretch of beach on the east shore. 

More than 8,000lbs of trash were collected.
Provided / Keep Tahoe Blue

“It’s quite a hangover,” KTB said on social media and posted images and videos of the site.

The remaining 2,280lbs was disproportionately divided up between the other five locations.

The relatively litter-free sites included Commons Beach in Tahoe City and Kings Beach State Recreation Area, which is attributed to the presence of trash receptacles, bathrooms, and hard work of management staff. 

Volunteers at Kiva Beach and Lakeview Commons, two more of the holiday “hangover” clean up locations, say the beauty is taken for granted and the lands abused. 

Dan Howard, a volunteer of the Tallac site, told the Tribune he gets a sense of giving back and gives his time to clean bathrooms, remove trash, and other landscaping duties.

“My number one concern is make sure the trash is secure so the bears can’t get to it,” Howard said.

While there are trash receptacles, Howard added, it seems most people fail to lock the dumpster behind them or simply leave their trash behind for someone else to contend with.

A 6ft x 6ft display of trash shows 6 weeks of trash collected by Keep Tahoe Blue.
Ashleigh Goodwin / Tahoe Daily Tribune

On display at the Lake View Commons was the contents from roughly six weeks of trash pick ups including smaller items collected by the BEBOT, a train-collecting robot that combs the beaches. A six-foot cube structure displayed trash and the amount of time it would take for the items to break down completely. 

“Basically [some of the items] would be here forever. If you come across something, pick it up and pack out what you pack in,” said Chris Joseph Communications Director, The League to Save Lake Tahoe, if the almost 8,600lbs of trash hadn’t been picked up it would have eventually made way to the waters of their namesake lake.   

More than 400 volunteers collected trash around the Basin.
Provided / Keep Tahoe Blue

“League to Save Lake Tahoe takes care of their volunteers,” said Bob Harms, a core volunteer and long time local of South Lake Tahoe. 

KTB keeps the focus on the beaches for trash clean up, the volunteers that make it possible and the true purpose: preservation of the blue water. 

In addition to the beach-combing robot, BEBOT the League to Save Lake Tahoe has worked together with TRPA to introduce a trailer-mounted station; Clean, Drain, Dry, Dispose, to be used to remove ecologically disastrous invasive species from kayaks or paddle boards before they hit the water. 

The CD3 trailer includes a scrub brush, vacuum, tongs, air compressor and data collection equipment which will inform where more permanent stations would be best placed in the future. 

The station will be deployed at several locations through the summer for a week each.

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