Clean Up Lake Tahoe

Clean Up The Lake SCUBA dive team completes unforgettable effort

South Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev.- The Clean Up The Lake SCUBA dive team that embarked on an extraordinary effort to recover submerged litter around all 72-miles of Lake Tahoe’s shoreline – that launched on May 14, 2021 – has officially completed the project. In total, the dive team collected 24,797 pieces of litter, bringing the total weight removed to 25,281 pounds.

The project was made possible by a $100,000 matching donation from Tahoe Blue Vodka, contributions from more than 135 Tahoe Fund donors including Vail Resorts, and the Nevada Division of State Lands’ Lake Tahoe License Plate program and other local grant giving foundations.


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California Recovery Center

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“…what we hope people remember is the length that one group of individuals was willing to go to in order to protect their home and their planet”

Colin West, Clean Up The Lake

Passionate Preservation

“Over the past year, despite winter weather, covid and wildfire related challenges, our dive team has been in the water at every opportunity to complete this unforgettable effort,” said Colin West, founder and executive director of Clean Up The Lake. “While the dive team has removed many expected and unexpected items along the way, ultimately what we hope people remember is the length that one group of individuals was willing to go to in order to protect their home and their planet, and in turn people should ask themselves how they are choosing to contribute to preserving our environment today.”

cleaning up Lake Tahoe

Remarkable Finds

As divers circumnavigated the lake, they recovered not only plastic bottles, cans and other “typical” litter, but items that included engagement rings, 1980’s Nikon film cameras, entire lamp-posts, “no littering” signs, massive pieces of broken down boats and engine blocks, lost wallets, cordless home telephones, a blackberry mobile phone, and more.

“Tahoe Blue Vodka sponsored this effort because we place tremendous value on the health of Lake Tahoe, not only because our vodka is inspired by its waters, but because it is such a huge part of what makes our community so special,” said Matt Levitt, Tahoe Blue Vodka founder. “The perseverance of the dive team and volunteers who never gave up, and their commitment to continuing clean-up efforts both in Lake Tahoe and other waterways in our region is inspiring.”

Clean Up The Lake will collaborate with scientific institutions and environmental consultants to study the recovered litter to develop a better understanding of its impact on Lake Tahoe. In addition, the Tahoe Fund with support from Tahoe Blue Vodka, recently announced it has commissioned artists to create a sculpture using some of the recovered items from the Lake. “Surfaced,” a permanent art installation, will be featured at the new Tahoe South Events Center to educate visitors about what lies beneath Tahoe’s blue waters.

“When we began the fundraising effort for this project, we knew it had the potential to have incredible impact on the health of Lake Tahoe,” said Allen Biaggi, Tahoe Fund board member. “The individual and corporate donors that helped make this project happen clearly demonstrated what Lake Tahoe means to them, and that efforts like these are worthwhile. Congratulations to the Clean Up The Lake team for completing this historic project.”

Additional Lakes

Clean Up The Lake is excited to announce that they will be performing clean-ups across four lakes this year, beginning as soon as next week. This will include intensive monitoring projects on both Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake, a circumnavigated clean-up of Fallen Leaf Lake located within the Tahoe basin, and an expansion to the Mammoth Lakes region for the clean-up of June Lake. West said, “I still can’t quite grasp what our team has accomplished, completing this 72-mile clean-up is a testament to what our team is capable of, and we are just getting started.”

MJD Capital Partners and Truckee Tahoe Lumber Company are new project partners to Clean Up The Lake’s next projects while past donors including Tahoe Fund, Tahoe Blue Vodka, Nevada Division of State Lands Lake Tahoe License Plate program, Martis Fund, Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation, Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation, Alpenglobal Capital and others continue to support their efforts. Despite current support, Clean Up The Lake’s 2022 projects require additional funding. Donate now at www.cleanupthelake.org/donate.

Related: South Lake Tahoe

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