If you ever wonder why people that live in mountain towns hold some resentment over tourists, this could be why. Before July 4th, Keep Tahoe Blue, also known as The League to Save Lake Tahoe, warned people to take care of their trash during the long holiday weekend. Clearly, people didn’t listen. Endless amounts of plastic bottles, beer cans, and much more were littered across Lake Tahoe’s numerous beaches, especially at Zephyr Cove.

Dr. Darcie Goodman Collins, CEO of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, said the following about the grotesque scenes:

“This morning, one of Tahoe’s beaches looked like a landfill. Thanks to passionate volunteers and community partners, it started to look like Tahoe again after some hard work. To Keep Tahoe Blue, everyone who enjoys this place must act more like our volunteers and partners by doing their part. It starts with leaving nothing behind, and picking up any trash you come across. Unless each of us share in the responsibility for protecting this place, it could be ruined.”

On July 5th, Keep Tahoe Blue got to work. Over the span of three hours, a group of 402 volunteers picked up 8,559 pounds of trash that was left behind by people. The League to Save Lake Tahoe has been doing the “Keep Tahoe Red, White & Blue” event since 2014, which has done a great service to the locals and tourists who enjoy this natural gem. Unfortunately, the trash pickup this year was an all-time record, meaning that many don’t care about the damage they do.

It should be noted that a large amount of these efforts came from Vail Resorts. Crews from Northstar, Kirkwood, and Heavenly came over to clean the beaches.

Tom Fortune, who is the VP and COO of Heavenly and the Tahoe Region at Vail Resorts, described their efforts in the cleanup process:

“Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Northstar are proud to partner with the League to Save Lake Tahoe through our EpicPromise program for their July 5th beach cleanup. It is crucial that we all work together as good stewards of the environment – something we deeply value as a company and as members of the Tahoe community. We are grateful to the League for their work and in organizing this annual event that all of our teams look forward to.”

Distressed locals suggested a variety of ideas to curb the typical Fourth of July trash buildup. Some ideas included canceling Tahoes’ July 4th festivities altogether, putting a sting operation together to penalize people who litter there, Zephyr Cove requiring permits to be there during peak periods, and NDOT banning curbside parking around the Cove. I found one Instagram comment to be fitting for the moment:

“I’m starting to think we as a human race don’t even deserve a place like Lake Tahoe smh.

One suggestion on my end is adding more trash buckets before a peak day like the Fourth Of July, in case the other trash buckets at the beaches fill up.

Another non-profit organization that is helping with the situation is the Sherry McConkey Foundation. They’re running a contest that’s asking people to share videos of them helping clean up trash while tagging the @shanemcconkeyecochallenge and the #mcconkeyminichallenge. The winner, who announced on August 1st, will receive a Hydrokflask. More details about the first-ever McConkey Mini Eco-Challenge are below.

Image/Video Credits: League to Save Lake Tahoe, Sherry McConkey

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