5th annual Lake Tahoe beach cleanup using trash data for advocacy
In an effort to preserve the water quality of Lake Tahoe, volunteers, including residents and visitors, gathered on July 5 for the fifth annual Keep Tahoe Red, White and Blue Cleanup to collect trash left over from Fourth of July celebrations.
“We’re really thankful to have all the volunteers that are out today,” said Marilee Movius, Keep Tahoe Blue community engagement manager. “The land managers do a great job but are overwhelmed by the trash left by the Fourth of July festivities,” she said.
Last summer, in cooperation with land managers and local businesses, and the help of 320 volunteers, 1,676 pounds of trash across 5.6 miles of Lake Tahoe beaches was collected. Since 2014 cleanup sites have included Commons Beach in Tahoe City, Kings Beach, Kiva Beach, Nevada Beach and Regan Beach.
Each year the group collects data from every cleanup site, including how much trash was collected, where it was found and what kind of trash it was such as plastic straws or cigarette butts. Last year the group collected 5,242 cigarette butts, 6,357 plastic pieces, including plastic bottle caps, straws and polystyrene pieces and 1,100 food wrappers from all the cleanup sites.
“The data is used for advocacy,” said Movius. “It’s really important because we are able to identify what we’re finding and where.”
She said that the data collected over the past five years has helped implement the styrofoam ban in South Lake Tahoe, banning restaurants from providing styrofoam products including plastic straws and utensils unless specifically requested.
“We applaud the city and we hope this movement happens basin wide so we can have our shorelines be more pristine around the lake,” said Movius.
Among the group of volunteers at Kings Beach were 25 foreign exchange students participating in a fellowship at University of Nevada Reno.
“Back home our beaches are very dirty,” said Arthur Woniala, a student from Uganda, who said he had collected over five pounds of trash that day. “The water is really clean here and I think it’s because of this. It’s good to keep the beach clean so people can enjoy it with their families,” he said.
Other volunteers included longtime locals.
“I grew up in Lake Tahoe, I heard about the trash cleanup and I just wanted to help,” said Allison Marshall. As an employee of Renown Health, Marshall said her employer gave her and her co-workers incentive to be their that day.
Keep Tahoe Blue will be collecting data on all the trash found today and will use the data to better understand how to protect the beaches from pollution in the future.
“We always remind people to pack out what you pack in,” said Movius. “It’s important to protect our shoreline and keep Tahoe blue.”
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 of firstname.lastname@example.org.