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Paddlers pull for Lake Tahoe research

Haley Estabrook
Kayakers paddle near McKinney Bay on Day 3 of the Circumnavigation of Lake Tahoe.
Provided/Christine Parks/Via the Record Courier

Kayakers from around the country partnered with the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center for the second annual circumnavigation of Lake Tahoe.

More than 50 paddlers participated in the 65-mile trip around the lake over the course of a week on the water.

Minden resident Carlo Luri has been kayaking for 30 years and decided to take on this kayaking trip.



“I’ve always been interested in environmental issues,” Luri said. “When you’re aware of all the threats that are out there to our environment you care. I love that there are people out there doing science and coming up with ways to mitigate the problem. There is plastic pollution, invasive weeds and all sorts of issues that face the lake.”

The paddlers started their journey from Sand Harbor making stops at Kings Beach, Sunnyside, Meeks Bay, Baldwin Beach and Cave Rock. On the last day they traveled their longest stretch at 12.7 miles and made their way back to Sand Harbor to celebrate in Incline Village and meet the research center’s advisory board to hear how they are working to preserve the lake.



The kayakers combined day five and six of the trip for their safety as thunderstorms hit the lake.

The event raises money for repairing exhibits in the Tahoe Science Center and conduct further research on the lake.

“It helps to get the word out,” said Education and Outreach Director Heather Segale. “We are always trying to find ways to connect with Tahoe residents, or people who visit here regularly or people who are just engaged and connected to Tahoe and want to learn more. It reaches out to a different group who maybe doesn’t love science but maybe loves kayaking.”

The Tahoe Environmental Research team is made up of 15 members that are looking to educate people of all ages through events such as the circumnavigation as well as their Tahoe Science Center tours.

“Our mission is to inspire people to protect the environment and the lake,” said Segale. “We know from our own understanding that the more you know and understand, the more you care and the more you act and do things to make a difference.”

Located in Incline Village, the sole science center devoted to Lake Tahoe allows tourists and locals to dive into the science about Lake Tahoe and learn how they can preserve Lake Tahoe themselves.

The science center is child friendly, but it is recommended for children over 8-years-old.

When children walk into the center, they can grab a free coloring book and lab coat to put on for the tour to help them feel like scientists while exploring the center.

The center holds tours that include interactive exhibits including a virtual research boat, virtual laboratory, 3-D visualization theater and a shaping watersheds interactive sandbox.

The Virtual Research Vessel is a two-thirds scale model of the UC Davis Research Vessel John Le Conte.

When the guests gather around the boat, virtual researchers greet them and teach visitors about Lake Tahoe.

The John Le Conte also shows tools such as the Secchi disk, Van Dorn sampler, and a plankton net. The use of each item is explained, and visitors are shown how each item helps with Lake Tahoe research.

The Virtual Laboratory brings guests to a science lab to teach them about the aquatic Lake Tahoe creatures and watch scientists work to investigate why Lake Tahoe is continuously changing.

The 3D Visualization Theater holds three different movies that are available for watching, “Lake Tahoe in Depth, “Mapping Change,” and “Let’s Go Jump in a Lake.”

The Shaping Watersheds Interactive Sandbox gives guests the opportunity to explore how water moves down mountains into streams and through a watershed.

The center has put out a Citizen Science Tahoe App where anyone visiting Tahoe can report on the water quality.

“It is important to get a lot of eyes on the lake and to measure what people are seeing. We have all these instruments that are near shore sensor instruments in the lake,” said Segale. “We are trying to calibrate with the human eyes what the instruments mean. The more people that we have using the app in more locations, the more valuable the data is.”

The center is also providing lake conditions on their website at tahoe.ucdavis.edu to give visitors and locals a real-time look at lake temperatures, water currents, wave height, air quality conditions as well as Lake Tahoe facts and trivia to help educate guests.

“We want people to know more about Lake Tahoe as they visit,” said Segale.

Research conducted at the center not only helps Lake Tahoe, but also helps supply information around the world.

“Lake Tahoe provides information globally about what works and doesn’t work and how to protect lakes.”

Segale said the team believes that everyone can have a part in protecting Lake Tahoe.

“It comes down to stewardship,” said Segale. “We all need to be better caretakers and learn how to take care of this place that we love. “We want to protect the lake for future generations and for everyone’s kids and for ourselves as well.”

The Tahoe Science Center is located at 291 Country Club Drive in Incline Village. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, and a reservation is recommended. Visit http://www.tahoesciencecenter.org to book a tour. The tours cost $5 per person for advanced registration.

Visit tahoe.ucdavis.edu/events to find out more about events at the Tahoe Environmental Research Center.


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