More than 8,000 pounds of trash removed from Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake

Sand Harbor trash
Sand Harbor trash(Clean Up the Lake)
Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 7:26 PM PDT
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Zephyr Cove, Nev. (KOLO) - Clean Up the Lake, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, has removed 8,183 pounds of trash from Donner Lake and Lake Tahoe. Beginning in July 2020, the Clean Up The Lake dive teams completed a circumnavigated SCUBA clean up of Donner Lake, covering every inch of the 8 mile shoreline at depths of 0-25 feet removing all the smaller trash they could find. That resulted in 5,151.5 pounds of trash removed from Donner Lake compared to 3,032 pounds of trash removed from the depths of Lake Tahoe. Other than 371 pounds of Lake Tahoe’s SCUBA trash count, all of this trash was removed since June of 2020. A portion of this trash came from a six mile clean up of Nevada’s Lake Tahoe sub-surface shoreline yielding 2,238 pounds of Trash from popular areas like Nevada Beach, Zephyr Cove, Secret beach and areas near Incline Village.

This cleanup was funded by the License Plate Grant from Nevada Division of State Lands and a sub-grant by NV Department of Environmental Protection and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Clean Up The Lake’s Founder and Executive Director Colin West is not only leading these dives to remove this trash, yet is also currently working with microplastics research teams from UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) and Desert Research Institute (DRI) to better understand the issue at hand so that in the future the organization can do more than pick up the trash, but address the plastic & litter issue at its root.

During this summer’s clean ups, West and his team used an archaeological surveying software called the Wildnote App. This allows divers to GPS pinpoint areas of interest such as trash hot spots, areas with heavier items that need a winch or crane to be removed, and also historical items that are left behind where the organization ensures to later notify proper authorities with the GPS data + photographs.

“In comparison to next year’s 72 mile SCUBA clean up of Lake Tahoe, these smaller scale clean ups gave us the opportunity to practice our craft and fine tune our strategies, while also removing a substantial amount of trash from both Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake,” said West. “Our organization now feels even more ready for what awaits us on the 72 mile SCUBA clean up next year”.

On September 23, 2020, Clean Up the Lake, UC Davis TERC and DRI will be sorting and categorizing the trash. They will then use the data to develop educational programs, better inform policy makers, and to spread public awareness on items that need to be reduced so they do not make it back into the lake.

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