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Clean up the Lake opens Environmental Dive Center

Clean up the Lake founder and CEO Colin West cuts the ribbon on the nonprofit's new Environmental Dive Center in Incline Village.
Justin Scacco / jscacco@sierrasun.com

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Clean up the Lake, known for diving beneath Tahoe’s waves and retrieving litter from the bottom, has taken a major step toward its environmental efforts with the grand opening of a new dive center in Incline Village.

Members from the nonprofit organization celebrated the opening of the new Environmental Dive Center on Thursday with a ribbon cutting ceremony that included several members from the community and other organizations that helped make the center a possibility.

“The center will be the first of it’s kind”, said Clean up the Lake founder and CEO Colin West, who added the goal of the center will be to create an “army” of environmental divers.



The Environmental Dive Center will be a hybrid between a conservation dive school and an environmental science center. Roughly $200,000 was raised in order to make the dive center a reality, and was made possible from donations by Boatworks Mall, Tahoe Beach Club, Nila Ruslen & Pavel Pragin, Marv & Patti Hovatter, Victoria Rosauer, and Lake Tahoe Community College. With support from its donors Clean up the Lake announced it will be able to match incoming donations, up to $125,000.

The launch of the dive center would also not be possible without the support of it’s in kind donors like Truckee Tahoe Lumber Company, Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District, Tahoe Table
Company & Snowcap Architecture.



“It really boils down to a similar mission for us, which is take care of our students, our communities, and our planet, and Clean up the Lake really does all three of those things,” said Lake Tahoe Community College President Jeff Defranco. “We want this lake to be protected now and for many generations to come.”

Lake Tahoe Community College donated $25,000 to Clean up the Lake.

Clean up the Lake is still actively seeking donations, founding partners, and naming rights opportunities in order to continue to protect Lake Tahoe. The fundraising campaign is set to conclude when they reach their final goal of $450,000 or in late September.

Last year, Clean up the Lake completed a 72-mile cleanup project that removed more than 25,281 pounds of small litter from Lake Tahoe. In total, the organization has removed more than 65,000 pounds of litter from the area’s bodies of water, ranging from items like tires and glass bottles to lost sunglasses and old stereos. from in and around the area’s bodies of water.

The new dive center, located at 925 Tahoe Boulevard includes a classroom for all environmental dive courses that will also double as a boardroom, a location for environmental film screenings, a space for litter categorization and data collection events, as well as more opportunity for engaging experiences including an expansion of internship programs and on-site visits for youth groups and classrooms.

“We are taking innovative strides to offer visitors and locals alike a unique blend of environmental curriculum and traditional SCUBA certifications,” said Director of Programs Sadye Easler.

Aspiring divers not only receive world-class SCUBA instruction from Professional Association of Diving Instructors, but will also learn about environmental subjects ranging from submerged litter issues in freshwater and marine environments, aquatic invasive species and more; both in the classroom and underwater. These courses will also teach Clean Up The Lake’s submerged litter cleanup methods, aquatic invasive species survey techniques, and other important approaches the organization uses in their conservation dive programs.

Clean up the Lake has already certified its first students through the dive center, teaching members of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California with a goal of imparting skills to safeguard their ancestral homeland and assist wherever possible in bolstering their own environmental programs.

“The Washoe Tribe is working to expand their stewardship and involvement within the basin to focus on conservation and protection of our cultural and environmental resources,” said Rhiana Jones, Director of Environmental Program, Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California in a statement. “There are now three Washoe Tribal Members and soon to be five certified divers from the Washoe Tribe, who will be working with Clean up the Lake to identify litter and (aquatic invasive species) issues in Lake Tahoe. This is has been a great partnership thus far, Clean Up The Lake has reached out early and often for Washoe Tribal Participation”

The Environmental Dive Center will serve as the epicenter for all Clean up the Lake programs going forward, ranging from lake remediation and cleanup projects in Lake Tahoe and nearby lakes like Donner, to advocacy and litter prevention initiatives such as the second annual Lake Tahoe Litter Summit. The 2024 Litter Summit, in partnership with Lake Tahoe Community College is scheduled for May of next year.

Clean up the Lake also announced the dive center will host a Tahoe Keepers sessions in partnership with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. This program focuses on the mitigation of aquatic invasive species in non-motorized vessels, which happens to include SCUBA equipment as well.

In the 2024 calendar year, the Environmental Dive Center will integrate a nationally recognized scientific dive certification program as well.

For more information or to donate to Clean up the Lake, visit cleanupthelake.org.

Volunteers sort litter at Clean up the Lake’s grand opening of its Environmental Dive Center.
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Clean up the Lake’s team of volunteers sort trash at the organization’s base of operations in Incline Village.
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A Clean up the Lake volunteer sorts through cans pulled from Lake Tahoe.
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Clean up the Lake held the grand opening of its Environmental Dive Center on Thursday in Incline Village.
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Clean up the Lake founder and CEO Colin West details the growth of the organization during the ribbon cutting for its Environmental Dive Center.
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