A look at people behind the ‘Keep Tahoe Blue’ bumper stickers
Imagine running a 4,500-member organization with the goal of protecting Lake Tahoe. Now imagine doing it with fewer than 10 paid staff members.
How could you do it?
Answer: You can’t – at least not without volunteers.
In a year, hundreds of volunteers help the nonprofit League to Save Lake Tahoe.
“People know us by our stickers: ‘Keep Tahoe Blue.’ It’s not just a slogan; it’s our mission,” said Heidi Hill Drum, spokeswoman for the League. “The way we do that is through outreach to the community. We’re always looking for new ways to reach out to the community. When you live here and work here, there are a lot of things you can do to protect the lake.”
The League, with offices on the north and south shores, has about 20 to 30 regular volunteers. They help distribute bumper stickers, do filing in the office and send letters out to the thousands of League members. They are responsible for keeping an updated subject file at the League office, so if a school kid from the other side of the country writing a paper about Tahoe or a person interested in moving to the area want to know more about the region, the League can send them specific information.
The League also has monthly education and recreation events. Volunteers help organize them, and the tour guides of the events – which include kayaking, snowshoeing, wildflower hiking – are volunteering their time.
League volunteers paint storm drains with the words “No dumping; drains to the lake.” In the summer, people help monitor forestry projects and grazing areas, being the eyes and ears for the group’s small staff.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be as effective as we are,” Hill Drum said.
The big event each year is Tahoe Forest Stewardship Day, where volunteers take a plot of land, thin the trees to improve forest health and hold classes in the woods to educate children and volunteers alike about wildlife, soil conservation, forest ecology and the culture of the Washoe Tribe.
The inaugural stewardship day was in the summer of 1998 on North Shore, with about 300 volunteers. Last summer, with events on north and south shores, about 500 volunteers turned out to help.
Kingsbury resident Alison Mackintosh has been volunteering at the League’s South Shore office since February. She moved to Tahoe last December and flipped through the yellow pages to find a way to help the environmental community.
“The reason I do it is because I care. I want to do something to make a difference,” said Mackintosh, who also volunteers at the Marine Research and Education group based on Ski Run Boulevard and the El Dorado County Animal Shelter. “It’s something everyone can do, and something everyone should think about doing even if it’s one day a month. Even if they can’t come down here, they can get in touch with the League and find out what they can do from home.
“Not everyone has the time I have, but everyone at Tahoe is responsible for what happens here,” she added. “We are the caretakers of Tahoe and should take it upon ourselves to live up to that responsibility.”
Information about the League to Save Lake Tahoe can be obtained at its South Shore office, 955 Emerald Bay Road, or by calling (530) 541-5454.
Editor’s note: In honor of National Volunteer Week, this is the first of a five-part series about volunteers and volunteer groups at Lake Tahoe.
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