Costal cleanup nets thousands of items |

Costal cleanup nets thousands of items

Mary Thompson

Though more than 200 miles from the Pacific coast, volunteers in the Lake Tahoe Basin joined forces Saturday with more than 39,000 volunteers in the 15th annual California Coastal Cleanup Day.

Between the Mexico and Oregon border and as far inland as Lake Tahoe, volunteers, organized by the California Coastal Commission, collected everything from dirty diapers, laptop computers, false teeth and old, worn-out couches.

While workers pulled wreckage from the seaweed strewn beaches along California’s coast, volunteers worked on the sandy strips along California’s largest alpine lake – Lake Tahoe.

In the South Shore area, El Dorado Beach in the city of South Lake Tahoe and the U.S. Forest Service beaches along State Route 89 received the most attention.

Along with the usual beer cans and blankets, trash treasure hunters in the Tahoe area swiped up a dead coyote, a pair of underwear, a few marijuana joints and a boomerang from Australia in their travels.

Even the bottom of the Fallen Leaf Lake got a combing by a team of six scuba divers who concentrated on raising old tires from the lake’s floor.

“We got about 86 tires from Fallen Leaf Lake near the marina,” said Neal Melton, cleanup volunteer and owner of SunSports, a South Lake Tahoe dive shop. “We weren’t able to get all the tires, there’s still about 30 to 40 left that we have to go back and get.”

Melton said the divers, who were able to clean about a half-acre of the lake’s floor, used an air bag to lift them to the surface, about 80 feet above. The tires were then pulled to shore by swimmers and a rope. He said South Tahoe Refuse is planning to pick them up for recycling today.

Melton, who has been involved in three other Coastal Cleanup days, said people who missed this year’s cleanup can do the chore on their own.

“People can clean up year-round,” he said. “The area along the Upper Truckee River near Highway 50, for example, is an area that could be cleaned because it is so close to the road.”

In El Dorado County 103 volunteers picked up a total of 740 pounds of trash and 166 pounds of recyclable materials. The local cleanup efforts were organized by the Clean Tahoe Program, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the visual quality of Lake Tahoe.

President of Clean Tahoe Program Jeff Bursha said the Coastal Cleanup program was a huge success.

“We picked up bags and bags of stuff,” he said. “About 70 pounds of documental trash off of El Dorado Beach and 2,287 cigarette butts.”

In all, 39,533 volunteers cleaned up 455,520 pounds of trash in the statewide effort and some 47,429 pounds of materials were sent to recycling bins.

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