Keeping Tahoe blue: Familiar faces, helping hands, epic results (Opinion)

In Tahoe, you tend to see the same familiar faces again and again. It’s one of the comforts of living in a small community. 

At the League to Save Lake Tahoe’s volunteer events, our staff looks forward to spending time with a core group of Tahoe Blue-Gooders, whether the day calls for an aquatic invasive species survey, wetland habitat restoration, or cleaning litter from Tahoe’s sandy shoreline. Working alongside people who share our passion for protecting the lake is a perk of being part of the Keep Tahoe Blue family. At certain times of the year, it can feel like we’re hosting a family reunion.

Our annual Keep Tahoe Red, White and Blue Beach Cleanup on July 5 is one of those special occasions. Residents, returning visitors and first-time vacationers come out in droves to show their love for Lake Tahoe. Some folks even plan their annual family trips around the event. During the most recent July 5 cleanup, more than 300 people spent their mornings scouring the sand for cigarette butts, food wrappers and a whole rainbow of small, pesky pieces of trash. Together, we purged more than 3,000 pounds of litter from the environment.

Any amount of litter at Tahoe is too much, but the example set by volunteers can make folks more aware of their impacts and encourage everyone to leave Lake Tahoe better than they found it.

It’s astounding how much good can be accomplished in just a few hours when you’ve got hundreds of hands working together. That includes generous local partners who make big events like these possible. The League is fortunate enough to be the recipient of an EpicPromise grant from Vail Resorts. Their generous contributions support cleanups like July 5, along with our other efforts to combat pollution, including a program that trained and deployed citizen scientists to measure runoff from areas burned during the Caldor Fire. 

On July 5, teams from Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar provided snacks, refreshments, prizes and plenty of elbow grease that supported cleanups at three beach sites. At Kings Beach, where I was stationed, the folks from Northstar were some of the first to come and last to leave.

Tahoe is a natural treasure, free and open for everyone. To truly enjoy this special place, each of us must do our part to protect it. If you see trash, pick it up. Keep your car parked, and walk, bike or take alternative transportation – like a free microtransit van – instead. Report environmental issues you see through the Citizen Science Tahoe App. Visit for more suggestions.

These are small actions, but with thousands of people doing them, they make a big impact. So, join the Tahoe Blue-Gooder family by helping protect our Jewel of the Sierra. Our team at the League looks forward to seeing your familiar face on a Tahoe beach soon. 

Together, we Keep Tahoe Blue.

Darcie Goodman Collins, PhD, is the CEO for Keep Tahoe Blue/League to Save Lake Tahoe.

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