Protecting Lake Tahoe Since 1957

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Keep Tahoe Blue Advocacy Update

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Our advocacy, policy and science experts keep a watchful eye on projects and plans that could impact the health and clarity of Lake Tahoe. We do this work through our three campaigns: Advance Restoration, Combat Pollution and Tackle Invasive Species. Scroll down to read about a few projects we're working on now.

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CA Landscape Stewardship Network - Interagency Summit

CLSN's Cutting Green Tape initiative was designed to accelerate ecosystem restoration.

What is it? The most pressing environmental challenges – like climate change – are happening at a pace and scale that require collaboration between many partners and across property lines and jurisdictions. The California Landscape Stewardship Network (CLSN) was created in 2016 to address these challenges. CLSN is a “network of networks,” bringing together 34 public and private organizations from across California. All members share a commitment to accelerating ecosystem restoration projects on a broad scale to maximize environmental and recreational benefits. The League to Save Lake Tahoe shares this goal and plays a leadership role within the organization.  


In December 2023, in partnership with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California Water Quality Control Board, the leadership of CLSN, including League CEO Dr. Darcie Goodman Collins, facilitated the “Advancing Restoration Interagency Summit.” The purpose of the Summit was to gather the public officials who grant permission for restoration projects so they can work toward shared goals. 

Where is it in the process? A central focus of CLSN is to get ecosystem restoration work going by removing regulatory hurdles. The effort is called Cutting Green Tape, which refers to the complicated, resource-intensive permitting requirements – akin to bureaucratic red tape – that can stop environmental projects in their tracks.  


In 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order directing state agencies to streamline the state’s process to approve and facilitate restoration projects. As the state’s top environmental entity, the California Natural Resources Agency took the lead by working closely with CLSN to draft a set of recommendations for cutting green tape, which are now being implemented. The Advancing Restoration Interagency Summit is a continuation of this effort.  


For the first time, the event brought together key officials from the state’s environmental agencies to build interpersonal connections and workshop ways they can collectively streamline restoration work. 

What’s next? This first Cutting Green Tape-focused summit produced various legislative and administrative recommendations which will be pursued by the agencies and CLSN leadership over the next year. 


Participants, who previously had very little inter- and intra-agency coordination on streamlining permitting for restoration projects, acknowledged the utmost value of the convening and committed to participating in similar summits on an annual basis.  

What is the League’s position? SUPPORT

Ecosystem restoration is one of the League to Save Lake Tahoe’s core objectives. Healthy, functioning ecosystems play an outsized role in preserving Lake Tahoe’s water quality. They also create ecological resilience that will help the Tahoe Basin withstand the impacts of climate change.  


Dr. Goodman Collins and the League believe Tahoe can serve as a living laboratory for cutting green tape strategies. Given that the Basin is split between two states, five counties, and two cities, and is home to a unique array of important environmental resources, when efforts to advance restoration succeed here they can be applied elsewhere.

Climate connection: Climate change is encouraging increasingly intense and frequent wildfires in the Sierra Nevada, as well as longer droughts, warmer temperatures, and erratic weather. Restoring the native ecosystem will help Tahoe be as resilient as possible so it can withstand these shocks and stay blue now and into the future.

More information:


Litter Prevention at the Spooner Summit Sled Hill

A Tahoe Blue Crew volunteer with the sled trash she's gathered.

Tahoe Blue Crew leader Ongkar Khalsa with litter collected from the Spooner sled hill and parking area.

What is it? Each winter, we see broken plastic sleds, hang tags from new clothing, food, and human waste pile up at Tahoe’s unmanaged, unofficial sledding hills and nearby areas where people park. Nowhere is the pollution problem worse than the sled hill at Spooner Summit. Since 2016, the League, our volunteers, and partners have rallied to clean up hundreds – and sometimes thousands – of pounds of litter left at the site each snowy season. In the winter of 2020/21, a single Tahoe Blue Crew removed 2,000 pounds of litter from the sled hill and parking area.

Where is it in the process? Recognizing that the scale of the problem was too big for our Tahoe Blue Crew and ad hoc cleanup events, the League sprung into action. Our policy staff spoke regularly with the site's two public land managers. We engaged the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) to ask for infrastructure that would prevent trash from becoming litter. When NDOT was unable to help, the League secured a temporary use permit and paid for a dumpster, two portable toilets, and regular servicing through the winter months for two consecutive years. In the first season, 2021/22, the dumpster intercepted 2,000 pounds of would-be litter that would have been left in the environment and eventually found its way into the Lake. The winter of 2022/23 was just as successful at removing trash from this sledding hill.  

What’s next? The League’s policy experts shared with NDOT how successful this simple model for litter prevention proved to be, along with the modest annual price tag of $5,000. NDOT was convinced, and they have agreed to pay for a dumpster, portable toilets, and regular maintenance, as well as litter cleanup services from the Clean Tahoe program, for this winter and the next. These measures will mitigate litter while long-term solutions are pursued.

What is the League’s position? SUPPORT

The League works to Keep Tahoe Blue using a Science to Solutions approach. At League-hosted cleanup events, our volunteers, partners, and staff tabulate statistics about the litter they collect, which are then analyzed. This citizen science data provides our team of policy experts the factual evidence they need to lobby for solutions. In this case, the staggering amounts of litter removed from the Spooner sled hill, combined with a tested and proven model to address the problem, convinced the public land manager to adopt the League’s solution.

Climate connection: Plastic litter – including broken sleds, food packaging, and clothing tags – can break down into microplastics that damage the Lake’s delicate ecology, threaten its wildlife, and further exacerbate other impacts from a changing climate.

More information:


Reducing Single-Use Plastic Litter

Youth volunteers reach out to businesses about single-use plastics

Youth volunteers speak to a local business about alternatives to single-use plastics.

What is it? Litter in Tahoe is a persistent problem. The League’s litter data – collected by volunteers, partners, and our staff over a decade and more than 1,000 cleanup events – reveals that single-use plastic trash from food and beverage packaging is a major culprit. Armed with that data, the League’s policy experts have successfully lobbied local government for policies that prevent litter at its source. Convinced by our data and advocacy, the City of South Lake Tahoe has banned commonly littered items like plastic bags, expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam), and most recently, single-use plastic water bottles. We also lobbied for a California statewide policy that limits the use of plastic utensils, straws, and sauce packets. However, these policies only work if local businesses are aware of and abide by them.

This fall and winter, a team led by the League is visiting businesses on the north and south shores to ask them to replace and remove their single-use plastics ahead of the ban (for those in South Lake Tahoe), so these businesses have time to adopt cost-effective alternatives. 

Where is it in the process? Over 10 days this fall and winter, our outreach teams visited more than 170 businesses to speak with them about plastic pollution, provide information about the litter prevention policies that are in place, and offer a guide on sourcing non-plastic, cost-effective alternatives along with flyers to display for customers. Those resources can be found at League staff led the outreach alongside our partners from the City of South Lake Tahoe, UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center Advisory Board, community volunteers, and youth from S.O.S. Outreach.   

What’s next? South Lake Tahoe’s ban on single-use plastic water bottles comes into full force next Earth Day, April 22, 2024, when the ban extends to all businesses within city limits. Our outreach will continue into the spring of 2024 to educate businesses about what that means for them. In addition, we will also focus on another source of winter litter – plastic tags and hangers for clothing. Plastic items that come attached to new clothes are often removed and dropped at places like parking lots and sledding hills throughout winter. Together with S.O.S. Outreach and Take Care Tahoe, we will ask businesses to remove these plastics from purchased clothes before customers leave their stores.

What is the League’s position? SUPPORT

The League’s litter removal efforts are impactful in and of themselves. Since 2014, they have removed 95,000 pounds of trash from the Tahoe environment. However, the litter data that’s gathered during those cleanups empowers the League’s expert staff to identify trends and push for solutions that stop litter at the source. This is one example of the League’s Science to Solutions approach in action. 

Climate connection: Single-use plastic trash can break down into microplastics that damage the Lake’s delicate ecology, threaten its wildlife, and further exacerbate other impacts from a changing climate. 

More information:


Expansion of Lake Link Microtransit Service

Jan 2024 - Expanded Lake Link Service Area

Lake Link's current service area (blue) and new service areas (pink) coming in January.

What is it? Lake Link is a free, app-based ride service operating on Tahoe’s south shore, launched in July of 2022. Using a fleet of ADA-accessible shuttles and vans, Lake Link provides door-to-door, shared rides for workers, visitors, and residents. The original service area focused on the most dense areas of the south shore between the bottom of Kingsbury Grade at Stateline to the Lake Tahoe Community College/Al Tahoe neighborhood in South Lake Tahoe, along both US 50 and Pioneer Trail (map). This flexible, free, on-demand transportation model is called microtransit. The service will expand in mid-January. 


The League first brought the microtransit concept to Tahoe in 2018 with a self-funded pilot project. The model has since been adopted in Olympic Valley and Alpine Meadows as Mountaineer, as well as across the north and west shores as TART Connect. Together, the three microtransit services – all operated by Downtowner – have provided rides to 1,269,235 passengers


In 2019, the League secured a significant source of funding from the Tahoe Blue Event Center for Lake Link, then contributed $100,000, and helped raise additional funds to launch the service in the summer of 2022. Two League staff members serve on the board of the South Shore Transportation Management Association (SSTMA), which manages Lake Link. 

Where is it in the process? Robust data tracking shows that Lake Link rides have been in high demand since the service first launched. In response, the SSTMA and League have been advocating for funds to meet that demand. Recently, the City of South Lake Tahoe, Douglas County, and the State of Nevada pledged significant funding to expand the shuttles’ service area and operating times. As a result of these efforts, Lake Link now operates until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Beginning in mid-January 2024, shuttles will offer rides to and from: the Sierra Tract and Highland Woods neighborhoods and Grocery Outlet in midtown South Lake Tahoe; the Safeway in Roundhill; and up Kingsbury Grade to the Chart House (map). These data-driven expansions were selected based on rider requests, usage hotspots at the edges of service areas, the location of dense residential areas, and high traffic commercial destinations for locals and visitors.  

What’s next? Through our role on the SSTMA, the League will lead the effort to further expand Lake Link’s service area, with the goal of covering the entire south shore. Simultaneously, we are working to grow the Tahoe Transportation District’s traditional, fixed route bus service, so large buses can move riders quickly across town, while Lake Link delivers them across "the last mile" to their destination. Finally, our goal is to electrify Lake Link's fleet of vehicles. The League is working with partners to install charging infrastructure that will allow the rollout of electric shuttles. 

What is the League’s position? SUPPORT

Alternative transportation options shared between riders allow people to get around without their personal cars. Fewer cars on Tahoe’s roads means less traffic, tailpipe emissions, microplastic and chemical deposition from tire wear and tear, and polluted runoff from overused asphalt harming the Lake’s water quality and clarity. Microtransit is one tool that can help alleviate Tahoe’s transportation challenges. 

Climate connection: One of the League’s transportation goals is an entirely emissions-free system for getting to and around the Basin. Our plan to electrify Lake Link is one step toward achieving that mission and minimizing the local contribution to the climate crisis.

More information:


TRPA Housing Amendments

Rendering of multifamily housing - Design Workshop

A rendering of multifamily housing in Tahoe. Image: Design Workshop

What is it? Tahoe faces a housing crisis, as limited availability and increasing prices have forced members of the local workforce to move outside of the Basin and commute in, adding strain on roads and pollution that harms the Lake.  


For the past four years, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has pursued updates to its rules governing residential development under the banner of Tahoe Living. The main goal of the process was to amend Lake Tahoe zoning regulations to encourage the creation of affordable and workforce housing. Relaxing building requirements – such as limits on density and building height – for below-market priced units is intended to lower development costs and incentivize investment.

Where is it in the process? Throughout the four-year process, the League has been heavily involved, participating in every meeting and workshop, and voicing our concerns at every opportunity. Our staff have been the only stakeholders at the table representing Tahoe’s environment. We pushed back against earlier versions of the amendments that were too far-reaching and would have harmed Tahoe’s delicate ecology.  

On December 15, following several hours of public comment and discussion, TRPA’s Governing Board approved the proposed housing amendments, which apply only to projects close to transit that provide permanently deed-restricted units for lower income and local workers. Before TRPA made their decision, they incorporated changes the League lobbied for, including:    

  • More stringent conditions on developers to be granted exemptions for added coverage (impermeable surfaces) and density. 
  • Reduced building height allowances.
  • Requirement for stronger stormwater controls to prevent water quality impacts.
  • Reduced requirements to add parking (impermeable surfaces) in developable areas.
  • Stronger accountability measures so new units go to people for whom they were built.

What’s next? Now that the housing amendments have been approved, they will move to the county and municipal governments, which are required to align the changes with their local Area Plans within one year.  


TRPA’s approval of the housing amendments does not approve any specific project or projects. All proposed residential development must still pass through environmental review, which is subject to stakeholder and public scrutiny and input. The League will continue to play its role as the environmental watchdog, ensuring that any new projects do not harm Tahoe’s environment.

What is the League’s position? SUPPORT with caveats

Addressing the housing crisis at Lake Tahoe is a top priority. But any effort to improve housing (availability and affordability) must also protect the environment. The League appreciates that our concerns were heard and that the scope of the amendments was limited. However, we are not pleased that the building regulations were partially relaxed outside of town centers. We wanted that part of the proposal to be postponed, allowing for additional environmental analysis and public input.

The League is in favor of smart, responsible development concentrated in urban centers – areas that have existing infrastructure like roads, transit, and stormwater treatment systems.

We will remain integrally involved to make sure development does not damage the Lake we all love. 

Climate connection: Tahoe’s strong building regulations prevent new projects from becoming too big or located too far from existing services, which would add traffic that triggers erosion and tailpipe emissions known to impact Lake Tahoe’s water clarity and accelerate climate change.

More information:


Tahoe Keys Control Methods Test - Year Two Completed

Tahoe Keys CMT Map - 2023 Year 2

Treatment areas and methods for year two of the Control Methods Test.

What is it? The Control Methods Test (CMT) is a three-year, science-based program to test a range of treatment methods, alone and in combination, to control the infestation of aquatic invasive weeds in targeted areas within the Tahoe Keys. The results will guide a long-term strategy to tackle Tahoe’s most threatening invasive species infestation, stop its spread further into the Lake, and help protect water quality and clarity lakewide. 

Where is it in the process? In September of this year, the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association (TKPOA) completed the second year of the three-year CMT. In the first year, the actions of the CMT significantly reduced plant biomass using an array of methods, including the one-time, targeted use of herbicides in select areas blocked off behind double walls of barrier curtains. The goal of year two was to maintain the year one weed reduction, or “knock-back,” of invasive weeds using entirely non-chemical methods, such as UV light treatment, laminar flow aeration, bottom barriers, and diver-assisted suction dredging. The preliminary data from year two indicate that the initial knock-back of invasive plant density was largely sustained.   

What’s next? Tens of thousands of data points that were collected this summer are being analyzed to confirm if the treatments were effective in maintaining the weed knock-back levels achieved during year one. Importantly, the test this summer was conducted against a backdrop of extremely variable environmental conditions (like much colder, deeper water compared to year one). This range of conditions is being considered during analysis and will help bolster what we learn from the CMT. A complete year two report will be made public in the spring of 2024. 


Planning for the third and final year of the CMT will begin in early 2024. TKPOA members voted in support of the CMT’s year three, with 82% of voters approving a special assessment to continue financially supporting the test. In 2024, the program will focus on continuing to test non-herbicide treatments in the lagoons. 

What is the League’s position? SUPPORT

Aquatic invasive species are the single largest ecological threat to Lake Tahoe and must be contained. We support the CMT because the status quo has failed to control the problem; the test will help inform a long-term invasive weed control strategy; and the CMT’s design has a firm foundation in the best available science. 


The League has been heavily involved in all aspects of the CMT, from designing the project to funding adaptive management and non-chemical tests. It has been our priority to ensure that the process is guided by and adheres to the best available science to protect Tahoe’s water quality. Our team of experts helped craft the design for the year two tests and watched it closely to ensure it was executed safely and with long-term invasive species control and containment at the forefront. 

Climate connection: Climate change is creating more hospitable habitat for aquatic invasive species in Lake Tahoe. Prolonged drought lowers Tahoe’s water level, expanding areas of shallow water that warm easily and allow invasive weeds to flourish. 

More information:


New Zealand Mudsnail Action Plan

mudsnail - center for lakes and reservoirs

New Zealand mudsnails shown for scale. Photo: Center for Lakes and Reservoirs, Flickr CC

What is it? In September 2023, New Zealand mudsnails (NZMS), an aquatic invasive species, were discovered in Lake Tahoe for the first time. These invertebrates are tiny (each about the size of a grain of rice), reproduce quickly, and are able to survive harsh conditions, giving them the ability to expand rapidly. Like all aquatic invasive species (AIS) in Tahoe, NZMS threaten the Lake’s delicate ecology, which may impact water quality. They can outcompete native species and affect both nutrient cycling and algal growth.

Tahoe has a nation-leading program to prevent the introduction of AIS, which requires the inspection and decontamination of all motorized watercraft. However, fishing gear and nonmotorized watercraft do not have the same infrastructure for inspection, so the mudsnails could have entered Lake Tahoe as a stowaway on a piece of equipment, even inside a tackle box. They then spread easily by attaching themselves to aquatic plants, fishing gear and boats. It only takes one of these tiny invertebrates to start a new infestation because they can reproduce without mating. 

Where is it in the process? The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) conducted extensive underwater surveying around Tahoe’s entire shoreline to identify the mudsnails’ extent. They were found in a three-mile stretch along the south shore and in the Tahoe Keys. After initial detection, TRPA, the Tahoe Resource Conservation District (TRCD), and the League took action to spread awareness through the media, outreach to businesses and marinas, and through stakeholder and community engagement. We continue to urge Lake-users to be vigilant and ensure their recreational gear is free of AIS by cleaning, draining, and drying equipment before using it on the Lake.  


Prior to the mudsnail discovery, the League provided funding for a mobile, solar-powered cleaning station with onboard tools to stop the spread and introduction of AIS in Lake Tahoe. The innovative device is called the CD3, which stands for clean, drain, dry, and dispose. The CD3 is free to use and is intended for non-motorized watercraft and fishing gear. Working together with TRPA and TRCD, the CD3 was deployed this summer at several popular, high-use recreation sites around the Basin that lack boat inspection stations or staff. It was used over 500 times. 

What’s next? Alongside our agency partners, the League is focused on informing the public about the presence of mudsnails in Tahoe, the threat they pose, and how everyone who visits the Lake has a role to play in protecting it from AIS. In 2024, our actions will include:

  • Expanded use of the CD3, including the possible addition of several more machines. 
  • Outreach to fishing businesses, marinas, and at popular areas for angling and non-motorized access. 
  • Ensuring that any water disturbance (such as dredging) where NZMS are found includes additional measures to prevent spread.  
  • Installing signage at many popular launch points for paddlers and anglers. 
  • Ensuring that testing for the presence of NZMS in Tahoe’s tributaries is completed through sampling and analysis of environmental DNA. eDNA is DNA that is deposited in water, soils, etc. as organisms interact with their environment. These results will inform where the CD3 is deployed and outreach is targeted. 
  • Enrolling citizen scientists and marinas to report any NZMS sightings through our Eyes on the Lake program.

What is the League’s position? SUPPORT

The League supports the NZMS action plan and response. With our partners, we will use this experience to further improve Tahoe's AIS program and increase the Lake's defenses against other invasive species of concern, including quagga and zebra mussels.

Climate connection: Climate change is creating a more hospitable habitat for AIS in Lake Tahoe. Prolonged drought lowers Tahoe’s water level, expanding areas of shallow water that warm easily and become vulnerable to infestation.

More information:

In Case You Missed It

Opinion: Rep. Kevin Kiley – “Keep Tahoe Blue”

Grass Valley Union | November 29

"For over 50 years... both parties have worked in a bipartisan manner to protect the natural beauty and wonder of the lake. But we must remain vigilant."

Read the opinion piece

Rep. Kiley at the 2023 Tahoe Summit

TRPA mooring lottery open through 3/1/2024

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

Entries into the annual lottery for new moorings can be submitted to TRPA by lakefront property owners.

Read more

Boats moored in a buoy field
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