Marinas are keeping Lake Tahoe blue |

Marinas are keeping Lake Tahoe blue

The Sierra Boat Company and the North Tahoe Marina have taken environmental matters into their own hands, and last week their efforts were recognized when both received a Clean Marina certificate.

The certification promotes clean boating facilities and protects California’s waterways from pollution, said Dave Mahoney, a safety officer with the Sierra Boat Company.

“We are kind of policing ourselves and making sure we’re keeping the lake clean without a governmental agency, like the [Tahoe Regional Planning Agency], telling us what to do,” Mahoney said.

The Clean Marina certification is the product of a partnership between private marina owners, government marina operators and yacht clubs in California.

The merit program originated in San Diego after several marina owners responded to government initiatives and compiled a checklist to maintain clean and efficient marinas, said General Manager Pat Bagan of the Sierra Boat Company.

“It makes you go back and just start at, what I call, the front door,” Bagan said.

After a comprehensive inspection of each marina’s boating facilities, hazardous material procedures, best management practices and emergency or prevention plans, both North Shore marinas were found environmentally friendly.

“We passed with flying colors,” Mahoney said.

By setting a standard for environmental quality, the certification salutes each marina’s integrity and helps legitimize them in the eyes of governing agencies, said Operations Manager Mike Wilson of the North Tahoe Marina.

“It gives us a little more ground to stand on in case the [planning agency] or [the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Board] has an issue with what we’re doing,” Wilson said.

Though the bistate planning agency maintains its own water-quality standards, spokesman Jeff Cowen said any effort promoting environmental stewardship of the lake is a welcome step.

Mahoney said the conditions that warranted certification will help in the fight against invasive species, a threat the planning agency gave emergency status to, because it increases boater consciousness about the lake.

“We can do a better job of policing ourselves and correcting any faults that a marina has … because we know the business,” Bagan said.

The Sierra Boat Company and the North Tahoe Marina were the first to receive the certification on the North Shore. The Tahoe Keys Marina in South Shore also received the certification.

Marina officials said they want to encourage other marinas on the lake to earn the Clean Marina certificate, which costs $250, because it ensures a high standard of quality and is not too difficult to achieve.

“We’re really trying to get [the program] going up here in Tahoe; to keep the lake blue,” Mahoney said.

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