Dirty shoreline to get a cleansing | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Dirty shoreline to get a cleansing

One can walk the talk of keeping a clean environment by hitting the beaches of Lake Tahoe and its surrounding tributaries this week.

The 18th Annual California Coastal Cleanup is slated from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, with 400 volunteers, including scuba divers, expected to scour the shorelines looking for trash and debris.

That’s double the number of dedicated workers from last year’s effort.

About 150 South Tahoe Middle School students plan to get a jump on the job Friday.

Lisa Peterson, a physical science teacher, will take the eighth-graders to Trout Creek that afternoon.

“Community service is something the school likes to get involved with,” she said.

Peterson even incorporated trash into the lesson plan Tuesday, asking the students how long they think pollutants take to decompose. She found the children reacted more dramatically to the notion that wildlife may be impacted by the debris — such as golf balls that may be swallowed.

A volunteer may see quite a cache of items and debris, especially with the lake’s slowly diminishing level. The lake measured in Tuesday at 6,223.74 feet — 8 inches above the rim level, according to federal water master Garry Stone.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation monitor expects the level to drop to the rim level by November. At the lake, shallow shorelines have sent boaters out to the deep waters and away from piers.

Stone agrees with Clean Tahoe that debris of all types could make a showing at the lake shoreline and the banks of the feeding streams as the runoff and flow have been lackluster this year.

“We may find more stuff at the tributaries (this year) because this stuff may just end up partway down the streams,” Clean Tahoe coordinator Joann Eisenbrandt said.

The statewide cleanup usually produces an assortment of things — many of them far out of their natural environment.

Tahoe is no exception. A toilet, inflatable raft, burned-out sofa, fake Christmas tree, antique necklace and a flower pot have turned up on Tahoe shores, along with the mounds of cigarette butts picked up each year.

Last year, 200 Tahoe volunteers seized 4,000 pounds of trash and 200 pounds of recyclables.

So much trash was spotted along the shores of the Upper Truckee River in 2000 that a llama handler used her animal to haul out the heap.

Eisenbrandt believes the strong presence of volunteers will make a difference year after year. The participants receive bags and gloves from beach captains.

“Some areas have gotten better, and that’s the point,” she said, adding that cleaning the environment “doesn’t have to be a one-day event.”

Still, the trash shows up every day and every year.

The captains will organize volunteers for Clean Tahoe at 20 sites around El Dorado County’s South Shore, including Pope, Baldwin and Kiva beaches at the lake. Two groups are expected to hit the West Shore at Meeks and Hurricane bays, too.

Another group plans to clean up the shores of Fallen Leaf Lake.

Anyone who wants to drop in on the cleanup may do so at El Dorado, Regan and Pope beaches.

The California Coastal Cleanup Day is part of the International Coastal Cleanup. This year, more than 400 locations throughout the state will clean the debris off about 1,100 miles of coastline. This includes bays, creeks, rivers and lakes.

— Susan Wood can be reached at 530-542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com

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