Tyler Alexander: Carson Middle School students keeping Tahoe blue
Lake Tahoe has long been known as one of the most beautiful lakes in America, if not the world, and with that much appeal, it attracts about 3 million visitors per year. With that many people and activity around the lake throughout the year, comes a lot of environmental concern. One of the most notable organizations that helps preserve Lake Tahoe is Keep Tahoe Blue: The League to Save Lake Tahoe.
On March 8 a select number of students at Carson Middle School, including me, got the opportunity to learn about the environmental hazards affecting Lake Tahoe, how Keep Tahoe Blue helps reduce those hazards, and how we can help, by participating on a field trip to the organization’s headquarters.
At Keep Tahoe Blue headquarters in South Lake Tahoe, we were greeted by two friendly members of the organization that taught us everything from the names of some of the invasive species in the lake, to what we can do to keep Tahoe blue. Educating the public about how to keep Tahoe blue and what the environmental hazards affecting the lake are, is one of the top priorities of the organization. To educate the public, Keep Tahoe Blue (the League) holds public meetings and talks, hands out fliers and brochures, and even allows boys and girls of all ages to participate on a field trip, just like some CMS students did. By educating the public throughout the Lake Tahoe region and all across the world to visitors from near and far, (on its website), the League makes a real difference.
The members gave a slideshow presentation and explained the hazards affecting Lake Tahoe are mostly human-caused. These hazards include litter, trash and runoff from the roads that eventually make their way to the lake, which decrease the water’s clarity and cause algae. The League has created several new drains and have labeled many of them that encourage not to dump or litter.
Storm runoff is not the only problem affecting the lake’s pureness. Invasive species have proven to be an extreme hazard because they over populate the waters and kill off many of the native species, which then affects the whole ecosystem. Efforts to decrease invasive species have proven to be successful since the organization and many others have mandatory boat and watercraft inspections.
The League would certainly not achieve a lot of its successes without the many volunteers who participate in shoreline clean-ups and programs such as Pipe Keepers and Eyes on the Lake. One example of beach clean-ups where a lot of volunteers participate is after the huge 4th of July event at the lake, which, sadly, results in countless amounts of litter being left on the shoreline. The relatively new program, Pipe Keepers, has volunteers examine water running from storm drains into Lake Tahoe and its largest tributary, the Upper Truckee River. The purpose of the program is to monitor water pollution in storm drains and see if it should be an area of concern, while at the same time raise public awareness about storm drain pollution and its impact on the lake’s clarity.
After the presentation at The League’s headquarters, students at CMS were led to do exactly that, in which we also learned how the League collects water samples and collects data out in the field. The other program, Eyes on the Lake, recruits water enthusiasts of all kinds to identify and report locations of aquatic invasive plant infestations.
After a couple of exciting hands-on learning experiences and discussion about how we can help keep Tahoe blue, CMS students and our chaperones got back on the school bus and departed from Keep Tahoe Blue headquarters and arrived at El Dorado Beach to eat lunch, play some games, and enjoy the one-of-a-kind Lake Tahoe scenery. We learned so much from Keep Tahoe Blue and thanked the members for all their time.
I encourage everyone to get involved to keep Tahoe blue, and you don’t just have to be a resident of Lake Tahoe to get involved. One of the many things we can do is to volunteer for the League in regular beach clean-ups and other activities. Even just picking up your pet’s waste helps a lot, and choosing a bicycle or bus instead of a car helps not only Lake Tahoe, but the entire global ecosystem.
I am extremely thankful for organizations like Keep Tahoe Blue that have strongly protected Lake Tahoe and I hope as more and more people become aware of the hazards affecting the lake and how they can help themselves, that they will continue to preserve one of the most beautiful places on our planet.
Tyler Alexander is an eighth grade student at Carson Middle School.