Tahoe’s beaches were still blanketed in morning shadows when volunteers began plucking cigarette butts, bottle caps and beach toys out of the sand early on July 5. By noon, 235 enthusiastic volunteers had removed 1,456 pounds of litter from ten Tahoe beaches and their surrounding areas as part of the League to Save Lake Tahoe’s annual July 5 Keep Tahoe Red, White and Blue Beach Cleanup.
“People’s passion for protecting Lake Tahoe never ceases to amaze me, even after eight years of organizing cleanups like this one,” said Marilee Movius, Community Engagement Manager for the League to Save Lake Tahoe, also known as Keep Tahoe Blue. “We had families and groups pass by, see what we were doing, drop their beach chairs and start to help. It goes to show that people want to do the right thing – they just need the opportunity.”
Since 2013, the League’s July 5 cleanup has provided that opportunity for locals, visitors and businesses. For many participants, volunteering at a cleanup event shines a bright light on the threats facing Lake Tahoe, which leads them to become more involved in the Lake preservation movement. By practicing Lake-friendly habits, using the Citizen Science Tahoe app, and getting involved in the League’s volunteer programs, anyone can join the #TahoeBlueGooder family.
“Events like this are real eye-openers,” said Casey Metkovich, a long-time Keep Tahoe Blue volunteer. “The Lake is so beautiful, it’s easy to think it’s pristine. But when you learn more and look closer, the Lake needs our help. And being that set of helping hands is so fulfilling.”
Every year, the July 5 cleanup effort showcases the power of coordination and an engaged, caring community. Volunteers power the event, while agency and business partners set the stage by sponsoring cleanup sites. They include Heavenly Mountain Resort and California Land Management (Nevada Beach); Kirkwood Mountain Resort and the City of South Lake Tahoe (Regan Beach); the Tahoe City Public Utility District and Trunk Show (Commons Beach); and California State Parks and Northstar California Resort (Kings Beach).
“The Lake is a wonderful gift that we all get to share, so we all have a responsibility to protect it – businesses included,” said Jerusha Hall, Environmental Planner with Vail Resorts, an event sponsor. “Vail Resorts is honored to be part of the Tahoe Blue-Gooder family.”
Naomi Morgan, one of the League’s Core Volunteers who makes the trek up from Reno every July 5, echoed the importance of doing your part.
“On a personal level, the little things we do will keep Tahoe beautiful and healthy: choose reusable products, pack out what you pack in, and leave no trace,” said Morgan. “Thank you to everyone that leaves the outdoors better than they found them. That’s how we will Keep Tahoe Blue.”
For more Lake-friendly tips and opportunities to get involved, visit keeptahoeblue.org/events.