Coastal Cleanup anticipated |

Coastal Cleanup anticipated

Hema Easley

A month before the world begins its annual coastal cleanup project Saturday, Bonnie O’Rork and her small band of friends started making trips into the woods to pick up litter along the Truckee River.

During the four weeks of endeavor, O’Rork gathered more than 30 pounds of garbage, which included a pair of pink panties, a broom, cans, bottles, paper and plastic. Her two llamas, ages 14 and 8, carried back the refuse because cars or trucks cannot reach the area.

“We didn’t get as much this year, which impressed me very much,” said O’Rork, a part-time Tahoe resident, adding that awareness about keeping the environment clean appeared to be increasing among the public.

For three hours beginning 9 a.m. Saturday, thousands of volunteers are expected to converge on the beaches of California to participate in the Coastal Cleanup Day. The day is part of the International Coastal Cleanup in which 50 states and more than 100 countries participate.

The aim is to clean beaches and waterways of man-made debris and to identify the amount, types and sources of the refuse.

Though Tahoe has no coastline, the lake and the surrounding water bodies in the Tahoe Basin afford great opportunities for conservationists to keep the beaches and water clean. Last year, 200 volunteers collected 300 pounds of recyclable waste and 1,100 pounds of trash from an area stretching from the El Dorado Beach on the south shore to Hurricane Bay on the west shore.

O’Rork began her cleanup effort in advance because her llamas had to be transported back to her winter home because of the increasing nip in the air in Tahoe, she said. However, she and her friends, all seniors, will participate in the weekend cleanup program.

The local cleanup efforts are being organized by the Clean Tahoe Program, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the visual quality of Lake Tahoe. Designated areas will be cleaned by teams of volunteers under the supervision of beach captains.

Volunteers will be provided supplies by the Coastal Commission, including trash bags, gloves and cards in which they will enter the kind and quantity of garbage collected. These cards, collected from volunteers, will be compiled and analyzed and could reveal possible patterns in marine debris in the region.

“Cleanup data reports have influenced public policy, policy on waste management, prompted legislation, and convinced individuals, organizations and communities to re-examine their waste handling practices,” said Roger Rufe, president of the Ocean Conservancy, an organization that works for a healthy environment in the ocean.

On Saturday, divers planned to pull out tires, cans, bottles and other waste from the bottom of Fallen Leaf lake. Volunteers will also clean the Kiva, Pope, Regan and Baldwin beaches, Taylor Creek, Blackwood Meadows, Truckee River, Tahoma, Meeks Bay and Cove East among other locations.

Volunteers from The League to Save Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, South Tahoe Public Utility District, Bank of America, the Forest Service and Lohantan were expected to participate in the cleanup program, the Clean Tahoe Program reported.

If you’re inerested in being a part of the Lake Tahoe cleanup either as a volunteer or a beach captain, call the Clean Tahoe Program at (530) 544-4210.

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