Show Tahoe love: Volunteer or donate at one of these nonprofits committed to preserving Tahoe

Lake Tahoe gives us so much — beautiful mountainous views, crystal clear water, hundreds of miles of trails to play on, and the “air that angels breathe,” as the great Mark Twain wrote. But what have you done for Tahoe in return?

With ever-growing visitation numbers and climate change putting increased pressure on the Jewel of the Sierra, it’s more important than ever to do your part to preserve this national treasure.

So next time you trek through the backcountry or swim in the cool azure waters of Lake Tahoe, consider giving back to this place that does so much for so many.

The League to Save Lake Tahoe organizes beach cleanups around the lake, but taking a garbage bag to the lake and picking up for 30 minutes with friends or family is another way to give back. Photo: The League to Save Lake Tahoe

Donate to the battle against invasive species

Aquatic invasive species, both flora and fauna, are a huge threat to Lake Tahoe’s overall health and clarity. Asian clams, Eurasian watermilfoil and curly leaf pondweed are established non-native species that agencies around the lake are constantly working to keep in check. They are impacting the lake’s ecosystem by concentrating nutrients, resulting in algae blooms and creating habitat for more invasive species such as goldfish and bass.

Through mandatory boat inspections and education, environmental agencies are working to keep the quick-spreading quagga and zebra mussels from colonizing the lake.

The League to Save Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Fund are two vetted nonprofits that are helping to fund various projects and research to reduce and hopefully eradicate invasive species from Lake Tahoe. Make a donation to help fund these types of environmental projects through keeptahoeblue.org or tahoefund.org.

Help keep beaches and trails trash-free

The League to Save Lake Tahoe hosts Keep Tahoe Red, White & Blue Beach Clean-ups around the lake on July 5 to remove the hundreds of pounds of garbage left by holiday beachgoers. In 2019, volunteers at these clean-ups collected 1,240 pounds of trash, including 9,276 pieces of plastic and 5,458 cigarette butts.

But you don’t need to attend an organized event to pick up trash around the lake. Grab a trash bag and head to a beach or trail for a couple of hours to do your part in keeping plastic wrappers, bottle tops, styrofoam, glass shards and more off the beaches and trails.

Cigarette butts are a major source of litter found on Tahoe’s beaches. Photo: The League to Save Lake Tahoe

Take a dive for underwater litter

Next summer, Tahoe Dive Center owner Matt Meunier and Clean Up the Lake founder Colin West plan to spend nearly four months scuba diving the 72 miles around the lake, cleaning up trash littering the lake’s bottom.

Contributors can make a donation or “adopt a mile” at charity.gofundme.com/cleanupthelake. Experienced divers can also donate their time, helping to clean up areas that Meunier and West pinpoint on GPS as needing extra attention.

The pair plans to make a film about the experience entitled “Making A Difference,” which will highlight other groups that are working to keep trash and microplastics out of the environment.

Nonprofit Clean Up the Lake aims to circumnavigate the lake, scuba diving and picking up underwater litter, while making a film about the process. Photo: Clean Up the Lake

Support the Sierra’s wildlife

Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care has been raising, rehabilitating and releasing orphaned and injured wildlife around the Tahoe Basin since 1978. From bears and bobcats to eagles and river otters, LTWC has cared for more than 24,000 creatures over the last 42 years and released over 15,000 back to the wild — an impressive 63% release rate.

You can support LTWC’s efforts through a one-time or recurring donation, volunteering, purchasing apparel from their online shop at ltwc.org, or by becoming a paid member, which will grant you access to private events hosted by the organization.

Keep the Tahoe Rim Trail in good shape

The Tahoe Rim Trail Association is committed to keeping the 165-mile, single-track trail circumnavigating the basin in good condition for hiking, horseback riding and (in certain areas) mountain biking. The association is responsible for trail maintenance, youth outdoor programs and education, and organizing volunteers to make all of this possible. Volunteer for a trail maintenance day or make a donation at tahoerimtrail.org to keep this iconic trail available for generations to come.

Volunteers helping with trail maintenance is integral to keeping the Tahoe Rim Trail safe and usable for hikers. Photo: Tahoe Rim Trail Association
Clearing fallen trees and repairing washed out trails are just some of the ways that volunteers can help the Tahoe Rim Trail Association on trail cleanup days. Photo: Tahoe Rim Trail Association
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