Volunteers flock to Tahoe’s beaches for Coastal Cleanup
Sun News Service
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE ” It’s anecdotal but may ring true if Lake Tahoe’s shoreline is any indication: When the economy goes bad, more people smoke and drink.
Volunteers at Saturday’s Coastal Cleanup Day say they picked up hundreds, if not thousands, of cigarette butts, beer cans and liquor bottles along Tahoe’s beaches, not to mention an assortment of oddities one might not expect to find on the shore.
Organizers of this year’s event said more than 1,500 pounds of garbage and 75 pounds of recycled material were collected Saturday by 110 volunteers. The Coastal Cleanup was held on coastlines throughout California, including Lake Tahoe. The event brought volunteers from as far away as Sacramento and Placerville.
Carol Christ of South Lake Tahoe has been cleaning the beaches of Lake Tahoe for years. This year definitely was full of butts at El Dorado Beach.
“I’ve picked up more cigarette butts than most years, and a lot of bottle caps, too,” Christ said.
South Lake Tahoe neighbors Melissa Baumann and Shelly Piscitelli walked El Dorado Beach and found what they described as “a ton of caps and butts and bottles.” Among their find: two wine bottles, a vodka bottle and a tequila bottle, plus three 24-ounce beer cans.
“There was no lemonade or juice bottles,” Baumann said.
“There was a bunch of hairholders. Lots of tape and nylon ties, a couple water bottles, a little baby toy and tons of cigarette butts. Oh, and a bunch of Cheetos bags,” Piscitelli added.
Ellen Nunes, program manager of Clean Tahoe, said the event drew people from far and wide.
“We had a group of ladies from the South Lake Tahoe Yacht Club who were helping; there were adults and children and people who have a lot of pride in their community and want to keep it clean,” Nunes said. “What is exciting to me is to see the people who’ve come out for this. They really do love where they live, and it shows.”
Tahoe resident Bob Blaney, who typically dives in the water looking for material from Tahoe Keys to Camp Richardson, told Nunes that the water had looked the cleanest it had in years.
Meanwhile, most of the garbage collected, including an antique-style washing machine, came out of the meadows. Blackwood Meadow has become a notorious illegal dumping ground for furniture and appliances, Nunes said.
A group of 12 students from Union Mine High School in Placerville contributed to the cleanup as part of their environmental club. Student Suzanne Lewis reported the group picked up 97 cigarette butts, then stopped counting because there were so many.
One Sacramento couple, Linda and Stuart Knox, decided to make the Coastal Cleanup project at Lake Tahoe the sole reason to visit. The couple, who were married 24 years ago on the Tahoe Queen, said when they think of Tahoe, they think of how clean it is. And for the most part, the stretch of beach they were assigned to was fairly clean. The couple netted cigarette butts, fishing line, a couple of wine corks, a golf tee and some crayons.
“Tahoe isn’t exactly Sacramento. People here are probably more willing to go the extra mile to pick up after themselves,” Stuart Knox said. “Still, there are some who forget, and that’s what we’re here for.”
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