Spearing trash from the bottom of Lake Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Spearing trash from the bottom of Lake Tahoe

Karen LaFarge-Unrein
Special to the Bonanza
Karen found plenty of trash at the shallow bottom of the lake last month.
Photos courtesy Karen LaFarge-Unrein |

EDITOR’S NOTE: Truckee resident Karen LaFarge-Unrein recently submitted this first-person story and photos to the Sierra Sun in an effort to draw attention to how residents and visitors can better take care of our environment.

LAKE TAHOE — Taking advantage of the warm January weather recently, my husband and I were inspired to take our canoe out on the pristine east shore of Lake Tahoe.

The calm waters and sighting of two bald eagles gave us further reasons to push on farther along the shoreline to the Chimney Beach area.

However, as we paddled onto the beach, we saw a reflection on the bottom about 5-7 feet below us; it was a twisted mess of beer cans and a broken wine bottle top, intertwined with other debris.

Incapable of having the means to retrieve it, we left it, but knew we would be back.

“If you can bring that six pack in, then what is preventing you from carrying it out?”

Four days later, we returned to the same spot in our canoe. We had made a crudely formed implement of 8-10 feet so we could spear that trash out of the water. Over a period of three hours, we pulled out enough to fill a large garbage bag. We also cleared the beach of more litter left by careless people.

Does one not think of the environmental consequences to wildlife and the message it sends to all who visit the shores of Lake Tahoe?

Does the excuse for one’s blatant disregard for beauty give them the right to leave the area unsightly? Do they never plan to return?

I challenge everyone to “Leave No Trace Behind,” “Pack It In and Out,” and carry a trash bag. If you can bring that six pack in, then what is preventing you from carrying it out?

I noticed that there are no signs that indicate promoting, “Leave it Clean.” Couldn’t the forest service place signs at the top of beach trails along all the basin shoreline indicating the need to pack it out?

Until then, as we have done for two decades, I will continue to pick up others’ trash along the hiking trails, on the beaches, and in the rivers where we fly-fish, because I want to leave the area knowing I left it looking more beautiful and safer for the wildlife than what I found it.

Maybe others will see us doing this and catch on.

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