The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Pollution threatens Lake Tahoe’s beauty

Masha Rozenfeld
A line of cars stand in traffic on their way to Lake Tahoe, as they release carbon emissions.

Lake Tahoe is a beloved place by many, and it’s known for its crystal-clear waters, ski resorts, and scenic views. With its increasing popularity and tourism comes more plastic and air pollution. 

According to Keep Tahoe Blue, a local environmental organization, Lake Tahoe receives 15 million tourists yearly, more than both Yellowstone National Park and Zion National Park. 

Many different sources of pollution in Lake Tahoe contribute to its environmental problems. Some of these include litter and transportation.

Ali Bravo is a resident of Truckee, and she describes how she always notices black snow in the wintertime and trashed beaches during the summer.

“I believe tourism and excess cars are the biggest factors in air pollution in the Tahoe region,” Bravo said.

According to a study published in the scientific journal, Nature, titled ‘Plastic debris in lakes and reservoirs,’ out of 38 lakes examined worldwide, Lake Tahoe had the third-highest concentration of plastic, which is even higher than the surface water at the ocean’s gyres. Ocean gyres are the floating islands of debris representative of the global plastic pollution disaster. 

“Plastics are a problem in aquatic environments because organisms can mistake the plastics for food. Having a belly full of plastic rather than food could affect the health of the organism. Furthermore, if people then eat that organism, they also ingest the plastic. It is not well understood how consuming seafood with plastics affects people’s health, but it is a cause for concern,” said Allison Luengen, an environmental professor at the University of San Francisco.

To combat this, Keep Tahoe Blue is fighting to clean up the litter and pollution in Tahoe. One of their programs is the Tahoe Blue Crew, where teams of 120+ volunteers have picked up 15,000 pounds of litter in the Tahoe and Truckee areas since 2021.

Paige Crowther, a junior at Carlmont High School, is a frequent visitor to Lake Tahoe, and she and her family love the nature and beauty of Tahoe.

“With so many crowds in Tahoe nowadays, it’s crucial to have organizations like Keep Tahoe Blue. They are doing so much to combat the damage from the overpopulation of visitors to keep the place we all love healthy,” Crowther said.

Masha Rozenfeld

Another issue diminishing from Lake Tahoe’s beauty is the air pollution. The endless traffic crushes up Tahoe roads to find dust and debris, which flows into the lake, polluting the water, according to Keep Tahoe Blue.

Additionally, tailpipe emissions contribute to greenhouse gasses, furthering the effects of climate change.

A great alternative to driving to Tahoe on your own is to take a shuttle bus. Sports Basement offers a shuttle service called the Ski Bus, a convenient and stress-free way for skiers and snowboarders to reach various ski resorts without the hassle of planning, driving, or purchasing gas. Some destinations include Palisades, Sugar Bowl, and Northstar

“By consolidating multiple passengers into a single vehicle, shuttle services decrease the number of vehicles on the road. This reduction in individual car usage directly translates to lower emissions of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants,” said Anne Southerland, the Senior Manager of digital customer service at Sports Basement.

So whether it’s picking up after yourself, volunteering with Keep Tahoe Blue, or taking a ski bus, every visitor in Lake Tahoe must do their part to contribute to maintaining Tahoe’s beautiful environment.

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About the Contributor
Masha Rozenfeld
Masha Rozenfeld, Staff Writer
Masha Rozenfeld is a junior at Carlmont and this is her second year with Scot Scoop. She wants to keep people informed through journalism and help people see both sides of a story. Other than journalism, Masha enjoys, playing soccer, traveling, and hanging out with her friends. Twitter: @masha_roze Instagram: @masha_roze

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