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Stewardship day connects community with environment

Kara Fox
Sierra Sun

Keep Tahoe Blue is not just a mantra to be found on car bumpers, but one that the League to Save Lake Tahoe puts into action by getting the community involved at least once a year in environmental restoration work and education.

Tahoe Forest Stewardship Day, which took place Saturday at Skylandia State Park in Tahoe City, was begun in 1998 by Rich Kentz, who worked for the League at the time.

“We wanted to encourage community involvement on our public lands. As an organization that promotes stewardship in the basin, it made sense to create a project the public could participate in,” said Kentz, who now works as a teacher at Union Mine High School in Placerville. He brought eight students with him Saturday for the event.

This year, 250 participants worked on projects in Skylandia that included best management practices headed by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District, defensible space and forest health projects managed by California State Parks, trail work headed by the Tahoe City Public Utility District, installing a vehicle barrier post and decommissioning a BMX track with the California Tahoe Conservancy, erosion control projects and building a Washoe summer hut.

In addition to the students from Placerville, students from Squaw Valley Academy, McQueen High School’s environment club in Reno, and the University of Nevada, Reno, volunteered for the day.

Mike Branch, a literature-and-environment professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, has participated in the event every year. Branch brings his students to connect with their watershed and to see the bigger picture of the way nature works.

“A lot of people in Reno don’t realize the role of the lake in their watershed,” Branch said. “When they see the Truckee River flowing out their window, it is part of a larger watershed.”

One of Branch’s graduate students, Megan Kuster, has participated in the Stewardship Day for two years and said she likes to see the immediate results of the day’s work.

“I have a greater knowledge of the connectivity between my watershed in Reno and up here,” Kuster said. “It helps establish a contact with the watershed I drink from.”


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