Landscaping goes long way in fight against declining lake clarity |

Landscaping goes long way in fight against declining lake clarity

Mary Thompson

There’s something simple you can do in the fight to save Lake Tahoe’s declining clarity – landscape.

An estimated 30 percent of Tahoe’s fading clarity is attributed to stormwater runoff from residential properties, said Jason Shackelford, a conservationist from the Nevada Tahoe Conservation District.

Much of the problem lies in the Lake Tahoe Basin’s urban development where pavement and exposed soils send runoff straight into the lake as opposed to being filtered through the ground soils.

A properly maintained lawn, along with other plants and trees that will help with erosion control, will let snowmelt and rain water percolate through the ground before it flows, full of sediments, into the lake.

But in Tahoe, planning an environmentally friendly yard isn’t as easy as heading down to the nearest nursery and picking out the prettiest plants. It takes planning, said Shackelford.

“There are a lot of things that go into making a healthy parcel,” he said. ” You’ve got to know what plants are good to plant here in the Lake Tahoe Basin.”

“The Home Landscaping Guide for Lake Tahoe and Vicinity,” a 150-page manual written by the University of Nevada, outlines which plants will thrive in Tahoe’s granitic soils. But there’s an alternative to leafing through pages upon pages of recommended ground covers and sods.

The Nevada and California Tahoe Conservation districts, Tahoe ReGreen and the League to Save Lake Tahoe, a nonprofit environmental organization that is dedicated to preserving Tahoe’s famed clarity, will present a landscaping workshop 6 p.m. Thursday at the Aspen Hollow Nursery, located at 541 Emerald Bay Road. In the event of rain, the meeting will move to the League to Save Lake Tahoe offices at 955 Emerald Bay Road. There is no charge to attend.

A follow-up workshop to implement the ideas discussed at the nursery will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at a residential property at 1223 Lodi Ave.

“We’ll have master gardeners talking about revegetation on a disturbed site,” he said. “Then on Saturday we’ll be planting the plants.”

The two workshops will also talk about implementing Best Management Practices, which are techniques used to reduce erosion and water pollution, and creating defensible space around your house for fire protection.

Throughout the summer, Shackelford will be hosting conservation block parties at various neighborhoods in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Last summer, about 1,400 residents were helped through the Backyard Conservation program. This year, Shackelford said they’ll be organizing group landscaping events to save homeowners money. For example, if a few houses need gravel delivered, the cost could be considerably less if the truck only has to come out once instead of a few times for each neighbor.

“Our goal is to try to get it below a $400 total cost,” Shackelford said.

Call (530) 541-5388 for more details on the workshops.

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