Cleaning up South Lake Tahoe today |

Cleaning up South Lake Tahoe today

Roseann Keegan

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – In what’s being called the largest one-day volunteer event in state history, people throughout California will pitch in today to clean beaches, lakes and waterways.

The second annual Great Sierra Cleanup, in partnership with California Coastal Cleanup Day, will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 25. More than 200 volunteers are expected to roll up their sleeves at 15 work sites throughout South Lake Tahoe, while other work events will be held at locations throughout the state.

Many of the work sites will be led by service groups and businesses. The Tahoe Douglas Rotary will be near Ski Run Marina, Harrah’s Tahoe employees will be at Baldwin Beach, while Hard Rock Cafe staff will be at Kiva Beach.

South Tahoe Middle School students will volunteer alongside their teachers in the coming week.

The Sierra event focuses on restoring the health of Sierra Nevada waterways, while the coastal event focuses on cleaning up debris from California lakes and beaches.

Last year, more than 3,000 volunteers around the Sierra removed more 100 tons of trash – appliances, cigarette butts, beverage cans, baby diapers, tires, furniture – from the rivers and streams that supply the state of California with 65 percent of its water.

“We know that 50 million people come to the Sierra every year,” said Pete Dufour, spokesman for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, which spearheaded the event. “It gives them an opportunity to be good stewards of that precious and very important resource – water.”

Previous local cleanup efforts were under the title of the California Coastal Cleanup Day. Last year, the Sierra-specific event formed, partnering with the previous event.

“It’s a huge effort all around the basin, which is fantastic,” said local coordinator Ellen Nunez. “We have much more people involved, which makes it a lot more effective.”

There are six agencies involved in the regional effort, including Clean Tahoe, Sierra Nevada Alliance, Tahoe Resource Conservation District, California Tahoe Conservancy, Tahoe-Baikal Institute and California Trout.

The South Shore work sites will largely address illegal dumping, something that has increased as the economy has worsened and people can no longer afford dump fees.

The most unusual item the volunteers have ever recovered was a 1940s or 1950s-era washing machine, half-buried in mud.

“Who knows how long it had been there,” Nunez said.

Volunteers who have not signed up may go to Regan Beach at 8:45 a.m. to be assigned a work location.

A volunteer-appreciation pizza lunch and prize drawing will be held at 1 p.m. at Regan Beach.

For information and locations, visit

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