SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif./Nev. (May 10, 2022) – 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.
“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.”
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.”
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.
About Tahoe Fund
The Tahoe Fund is a nonprofit founded in 2010 to support environmental improvement projects that restore lake clarity, enhance sustainable recreation, promote healthier forests, improve transportation and inspire greater stewardship of the region. Through the generous support of its donors, the Tahoe Fund has leveraged more than $10 million in private funds to secure more than $60 million in public funds for more than 60 environmental projects. The projects include new sections of the Lake Tahoe Bikeway, restoration of watersheds, removal of aquatic invasive species, forest health projects, new hiking trails, and stewardship programs. Learn more at www.tahoefund.org.
About Tahoe Blue Vodka
Tahoe Blue Vodka was founded in 2012 by local entrepreneur Matt Levitt. The award-winning taste combines pristine Tahoe sourced water with a blend of grapes, corn and sugarcane for clean, gluten-free, crisp taste and smooth finish. Tahoe Blue Vodka has won over 25 prestigious awards at the highest regarded spirits tasting competitions. Through its parent company, Tahoe Spirits, Inc., Tahoe Blue Vodka has donated over $200K of its proceeds to organizations that work to protect Lake Tahoe and its surrounding environment. Tahoe Blue Vodka is available in stores throughout Reno/Tahoe/Northern Nevada, Sacramento, San Francisco and will soon be available in Southern California. For more information about Tahoe Blue Vodka, please visit www.tahoebluevodka.com.
About Clean Up The Lake
Clean Up The Lake is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to fight back against plastic and all forms of pollution in the global environment, both on land and under the surface, starting with Lake Tahoe and the Cayes in Belize. Our flagship project, the 72 mile clean up, is the first ever man powered circumnavigation of Lake Tahoe using SCUBA. This project will be accompanied by a large-scale trash clean-up of every inch of the 72-mile sub-surface shoreline. In addition to our presenting sponsor Tahoe Blue Vodka working with Tahoe Fund, Vail Resorts, NDSL Lake Tahoe License Plate Program, additional grant funding agencies for this project included Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation in association with Martis Fund, Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation and American Century Championship. Learn more and donate to our other causes at cleanupthelake.org.
Details on the scope of CUTL’s 2022’s future projects are available here.
About Nevada Division of State Lands/Tahoe License Plates
Administered by the Nevada Division of State Lands through the Nevada Tahoe Resource Team, since 1998, Nevada Lake Tahoe License Plate (NV-LTLP) sales and annual renewal fees have been invested in projects that help protect, restore, and enhance Lake Tahoe’s unique natural environment. Projects funded directly through the NV-LTLP program range from water quality initiatives and state park improvements, to research and monitoring studies, invasive species surveys and removal, climate change research, and public education efforts. To date, the NV-LTLP program has generated over $9 million, funding over 165 preservation and restoration projects on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. All Nevadans can help preserve and protect Lake Tahoe by purchasing a Lake Tahoe license plate for $61 with an annual renewal fee of $30. Learn more: lands.nv.gov/TahoePlate