Sticking with blue | SierraSun.com

Sticking with blue

Julie Brown
Sierra Sun
Sierra Sun photo illustrationThe Baikal Institute used the well-know "Keep Tahoe Blue" as a model for its own public awareness campaign.
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Statewide, nationwide and worldwide, the slogan that the League to Save Lake Tahoe coined and promoted, “Keep Tahoe Blue,” can be found on car bumpers, windows and even cash registers.

The phrase has become an international mantra to maintain Lake Tahoe’s natural asset, water clarity.

The bumper sticker ” a royal blue rectangle with “Keep Tahoe Blue” written in bold, white block lettering next to an outline of Lake Tahoe ” evolved from the League’s beginnings.

More recently, the familiar blue-and-white decal has devolved into countless spin-offs, from home-made creations to slogans for local organizations, such as the Tahoe Women’s Services or the Humane Society ” Keep Tahoe Safe and Keep Tahoe Kind, respectively.

“You see [the sticker] everywhere,” said Rochelle Nason, the League’s executive director. “I think it’s actually very good for the overall effort to promote the protection of Lake Tahoe. It’s even very positive for tourism [promotion].

“On a hot day, when you’re sitting in traffic in Sacramento or Reno, and you look ahead and see a [Keep Tahoe Blue] sticker, you’re reminded of a nice place to go.”

Nason said the league created the sticker to spread the word about environmental stewardship and protecting Lake Tahoe’s water clarity.

“It’s important to protect water quality,” she said. “But, to us it also means it’s important to protect all of the natural qualities of Lake Tahoe. It symbolizes the broader effort to protect and restore the area, and encourage people to enjoy it in an environmentally conscious way.”

Founded in 1957 and celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the League originally focused on establishing and expanding state parks, Nason said. Over time, the focus became concerned with land use, the basin’s watershed and, ultimately, water clarity.

“A lot has happened over the years,” Nason said. “But, the league has always prioritized water quality.”

The league’s motto and world renowned bumper sticker ” which has been seen in Europe and Asia ” promotes its water quality priority.

It is available to anyone for a $1 donation. The return on the sticker covers its cost of production, but doesn’t generate much profit, Nason said.

The sticker was first printed with the Nevada-California state line running through it. Later on, the state line was omitted in order to “emphasize the notion that it’s one lake,” Nason said.

But the omitted state-line is not the only detail that has evolved over the years. The sticker’s motto, design and concept have trickled down into countless local organizations and individual creators, who are taking their own spin on what arguably is Lake Tahoe’s most famous slogan.

The League has also published a Spanish-language version of its decal: “Mantenga Tahoe Azul.”

Such variations as “Keep Tahoe Local,” local band Blue Turtle Seduction’s “Keep Tahoe Seductive,” and the Tahoe Bike Coalition’s “Bike Lake Tahoe,” are all witness to the ever-growing “Keep Tahoe Blue” trend.

“I just saw [a Keep Tahoe Blue Sticker] today that says, ‘Jesus Christ made Lake Tahoe,'” said the League’s Julie Pettitt-Booth. “I’ve seen them all.”

The Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California created their spin-off of the sticker, “Keep Tahoe Washoe,” to communicate the Washoe Tribe’s ever-lasting presence at the lake, said spokesperson Felicia Archer. They used the league’s original slogan because it was so popular and symbolically embedded in Tahoe’s culture, Archer said.

The North Lake Tahoe Resort Association’s Steve Teshara agreed that the slogan, “Keep Tahoe Blue,” is culturally significant to Lake Tahoe’s identity.

“Wherever you see it, it reminds one of Lake Tahoe,” Teshara said. “It’s a very recognizable symbol, anywhere in the country, anywhere in the world.”