My Turn | Hey Tahoe beach-goers: Please pick up your trash | SierraSun.com

My Turn | Hey Tahoe beach-goers: Please pick up your trash

Anitra Sapula
Special to the Sun
Submitted to kmacmillan@sierrasun.comWhile the photo is a bit blurry, it shows how much recyclable material (not including non-recyclabe trash) Anitra and her boyfriend found on the beach in one afternoon.
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LAKE TAHOE and#8212; My boyfriend and I stopped by a favorite summer spot of ours on the east shore, Rock Island Beach, on Thursday afternoon, June 30. We have grown accustomed to the fact there is always a fair amount of broken glass, lake-tumbled glass and other miscellaneous human refuse items that will have been left behind, and we try to carry out as many of these dangerous materials as we can when we leave such a beach.

This particular visit yielded the most garbage intentionally left behind that we had ever viewed. Behind two boulders, my boyfriend tossed can after can, bottle after bottle, several cardboard beer carriers and snack wrappers, to name a few, over the boulder into a pile. Ultimately, this pile fit in four medium sized bags. Conveniently, these bags had also been stuffed between the rocks. We gathered as much as we could carry out, but there were still many fragments of broken beer bottles stuffed into small crevices between the rocks.

Iand#8217;d really like to think that people consider the impact they personally make in contributing to the long-term alteration of Lake Tahoe, and thus the alteration of the planet we all share, but I am losing faith that everyone in this world thinks about the greater good when they deliberately stuff garbage behind a rock at a beautiful beach. I have a hard time sympathizing with someone who considers simply his or her own well-being and the general concept that and#8220;someone else will take care of this.and#8221;

We all know that the high water level this season has limited significant portions of the beach shore. We need to be aware that leaving trash on these beaches, most notably the east shore beaches which are infamous for parties and thus party materials, will lead to a more significant negative impact on the lakeand#8217;s health.

When the sun was hitting the short amount of shoreline on Rock Island Beach, dozens of shards of broken bottle glass gleamed up at us. These public beaches should not be this way. One may say there are few beaches on the east shore that provide garbage cans, which is true. I know several of the more popular spots do provide receptacles for refuse, and this aids in limiting the amount of trash on those particular beaches.

As the more frequented beaches are considered a part of the State Park, I would imagine that our State Park rangers are responsible for overseeing the maintenance of these beaches (Hidden Beach, Chimney Beach, Sand Harbor, etc.). While it may be their job to provide the receptacle, remove and refill the bags, this should not be the focus of the position, and there are too many smaller beaches with parking access that are more difficult to access.

It is difficult for me to imagine that the lack of a garbage can would discourage beach-goers from disposing of their litter entirely, but I see more litter on beaches without trash cans than the beaches with trash cans. To play deviland#8217;s advocate, I recall the 4th of July fireworks show on Kings Beach in 2010. Any visitor to Kings Beach area waterfront knows there are many trash receptacles located in convenient locations. I stayed post-show while the crowd cleared out, and was dismayed to find that the empty beach was absolutely covered in garbage; not just bottles and cans, but full food containers and plastic bags.

The point here is there is no magical trash fairy, and there is no sense in assuming that my boyfriend will patrol the beaches for garbage this summer. If you bring food, drinks, toys, bags or cigarettes, these items will NOT melt in the rain. Be advised. Please, consider the well-being of others this year and every year. If you pack it in, you can certainly handle packing it out, too.

Anitra Sapula is a Truckee resident.