The Past and the Future
For almost 50 years, environmental and advocacy organizations have been working hard at Lake Tahoe to understand and protect the lake. For most of that time, the focus has been deep water clarity, as opposed to the condition of the nearshore. But most of us experience Tahoe directly by spending a day at the beach - wading, swimming, paddleboarding or kayaking. That used to mean crystal-clear water, sparkling sand and pure mountain air. But human activities, both local and global, have profoundly changed that experience. It is time to focus on the shoreline.
At SaveTahoeBeaches, we feel that it's critical to bring more research and focus on the degradation of the shoreline by algal and bacterial blooms, and the invasion of non-native plants. Supported by government research grants, the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center has been tracking these blooms via aerial imaging since 2017, and via ground and in-water monitoring since 1982. But in 2020 a crisis occurred - disrupted by the Covid-19 Pandemic, government funding for this work largely disappeared. Since then, aerial monitoring of algal and bacterial growth has been able to continue only through the private financial support of the SaveTahoeBeaches founders, and then only at a reduced level. Without more support it may not be able to continue.
How could things change if we can raise sufficient money? TERC and The League to Save Lake Tahoe have a vision of working together to find and execute safe solutions to the algae problem. This fall, they are organizing volunteer beach clean-ups and exploring ways to put algae removed from the beaches to beneficial use. With more funding, TERC, the League, and other advocacy, environmental and university organizations can explore the many ways to fight this problem. For example, it might be possible to vacuum algae from the water before it washes up on the beach. Fighting invasive species like the Asian clam might reduce their concentration of nutrients that feed algal blooms, and stop them before they happen. Through forest health programs, it may be possible to reduce forest fires that drop tons of algae-feeding nutrients into the lake. Each of you can help us with this future! Any and all donations help us save Lake Tahoe and its beautiful beaches.