Visitors Leave 1.5 Tons of Trash on Tahoe Beaches on July 4th
Courtesy US Forest Service

According to the United States Forest Service and reporting in the Mountain Democrat, revelers celebrating Independence Day around Lake Tahoe left a bit more than they came with on July 4th.

The Forest Service says that in total, they left behind 3,450 pounds of trash on Tahoe’s normally pristine beaches. That’s more than 1.5 tons of garbage from a single day of beachgoing. Photos from the Forest Service show staff members cleaning up giant bags of garbage left strewn around several Tahoe beaches.

Tourism is a big part of the economy in the cities around Lake Tahoe, as well as those further afield, such as Truckee. Many locals in the San Francisco Bay Area have second homes in Tahoe, and head there during breaks and holidays.

There are also many short-term rentals in the area, which brings in an even larger out-of-town crowd.

At least some of those visitors clearly aren’t respecting Tahoe’s pristine natural beauty. The lake’s deep blue color and incredible clarity are one of the reasons people keep visiting the area, but the amount of trash left behind clearly shows that visitors have the capacity to put that clarity and cleanliness in jeopardy.

Photos of the cleanup efforts showed both large bags of collected garbage and lots of bottles, paper, and other miscellaneous trash strewn around the sand.

The only good news? Tahoe has the resources and the will to clean up such a mess. In other places, all that garbage would probably wash right into the lake, whereas in Tahoe at least it appears to have been cleaned up within a day or two.

In the future, people will hopefully continue to visit Lake Tahoe and enjoy its natural beauty, but will also do a better job of leaving that beauty untouched for the next set of visitors.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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