1,008 cigarette butts picked up from Ski Run Beach | TahoeDailyTribune.com

1,008 cigarette butts picked up from Ski Run Beach

Jonah M. Kessel
A sample of one volunteer's Coastal Clean-up collection from Saturday is seen. / Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune

But where were the condoms?

After picking up 1,008 cigarette butts from the Ski Run Beach, it was a logical question for South Lake Tahoe resident Annie Geratowski to ask.

Geratowski was picking up trash for the third straight year as part of International Coastal Cleanup Day, in which more than 300,000 volunteers in more than 90 countries help pick up trash from coastal areas.

On the South Shore, Coastal Cleanup was coordinated by the Clean Tahoe Program. Geratowski was working as a team captain for the day, overseeing four volunteers, including this author.

Trash items ranged from beer bottles to plastic bags. Although the team found one toothbrush, some of the more disgusting items one might expect to find while cleaning up a public place — such as diapers, syringes or condoms — were absent.

The dichotomous nature of the serene Sierra landscape, combined with the pounds of trash, represented to Geratowski the varying ways residents and visitors treat the basin.

“People really treat the beaches pretty poorly. It seems really preventable. Anything we picked up, could have just as easily been thrown in a trash can, and there are multiple trash cans around most lake front areas,” she said.

As Geratowski’s trash bag continued filling up, trash bags all around Lake Tahoe piled up. One hundred sixty-five volunteers picked up over 1,600 pounds of trash from the lake shore, according to Program Manager Ellen Nunes.

“I’m happy to report that a record number of volunteers showed up this year to clean approximately 38 miles of beach as well as Sawmill Pond,” Nunes wrote in an e-mail.

With the many political faces of Lake Tahoe meeting weekly to try to create policy to sustain and improve Basin ecology, Saturday’s event gave opportunity for all locals to help in their own way to keep Tahoe Blue.

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