New app asks Lake Tahoe residents, visitors to keep lake clean by being ‘citizen scientists’

Local News

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KTXL) — Thousands of visitors and residents are likely to make Lake Tahoe a part of their July 4th celebrations, but scientists with the University of California, Davis want people to take more action to keep the lake clean this weekend. 

While it’s shaping up to be a busy Fourth of July weekend at the beaches of Lake Tahoe, for natives, more visitors mean more trash in the lake’s precious, blue waters.

“Every day in the evening it is just covered in trash,” said a local resident named Nick. “There are a lot of locals like us and friends who pick up trash every morning.”

Environmentalists like Anne Graham with the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center share the same concerns as locals. 

That’s why Graham and members of the League to Save Lake Tahoe are recruiting more people to become what they call “citizen scientists.”

“You look out and see how beautiful Lake Tahoe is, we want everyone to feel a responsibility and a sense of duty to keep it this beautiful,” Graham told FOX40. 

To do this, UC Davis TERC scientists have developed the Citizen Science Tahoe app.

While people are out kayaking or hiking along the lake, they can use the app to report any cloudiness, invasive algae or litter.

“Select any concerns that you see,” Graham explained. “So maybe you see litter and overflowing trash cans.”

“Other plastic food or drink containers, microplastics and plastics breaking down are a big concern in our area,” Graham continued. 

The app works in even the most remote places in Tahoe.

The data collected is analyzed by environmentalists and volunteers.

“They’re using the images that citizen scientists upload or observations that they make to see where there might be new area around the lake where algae’s occurring or where that kind of water quality and clarity is decreasing,” Graham said. 

For out-of-towners like Caroline Gallow and her husband, having the power to be environmentalists at their fingertips is another way of keeping Lake Tahoe a sought-after getaway.

“This is what’s needed,” Caroline Gallow said. “We all need to be aware of litter and take it out. If we bring it in, you take it out. It’s wonderful.”

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