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Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture
Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture

Lake Tahoe’s Underwater, a disturbing new world

Posted on January 5, 2013
Filed Under Lake Tahoe Eco-Tips

The underwater world of Lake Tahoe is disturbingly full of strange, new life. And it’s not good news according to Alpengroup’s founder Phil Caterino.

But there is a solution!

Everyone can help by inspecting and decontaminating their watercraft, gear and fishing gear before you enter any waters in the Lake Tahoe basin.  We’re all in this boat together.

According to local resident Caterino, in just a few years, vast sandy areas that for centuries covered the bottom of Lake Tahoe have disappeared under a carpet of invasive plants. The change is not merely cosmetic. Invasive species will upend the ecology of Lake Tahoe, shifting distribution of species and starving familiar fish of their usual food supply. Eurasian watermilfoil, Curlyleaf Pondweed and the Asian Clam are all found in Lake Tahoe now. It is not just invasive plants. In summer 2009 scores of Brown Bullhead Catfish were found in Emerald Bay. Once confined to the Tahoe Keys and Taylor Marsh, non-native fish are propagating all over Lake Tahoe.

“Unfortunately my predictions are coming true,” says Caterino. “This is one I wish I wasn’t right about regarding Tahoe’s future and the lakes of the western slope.”

Caterino has spent the last forty years working to protect Lake Tahoe. He was the founder of Alpengroup, the Sierra Avalanche Center, the Nevada Conservation League, the Tahoe Divers Conservancy, and the Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society. He is a strong advocate for grass roots activism to engage the public in meaningful projects committed to the preservation of Lake Tahoe.

Currently there is a major assault taking place on these Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) by the TRPA, Tahoe Resource Conservation District, USFS, Fish and Game, League to Save Lake Tahoe, and California Tahoe Conservancy.  It’s called Tahoe Boat Inspections.

Non-Motorized Operators and PaddlersBecome a Tahoe Keeper today!

If you only paddle within the Lake Tahoe basin, it is very important that you inspect your watercraft and gear to ensure you are not inadvertently transporting these non-native weeds found in Lake Tahoe and the Upper Truckee River to Fallen Leaf Lake, Echo Lake, Spooner Lake and the other lakes, streams and rivers. It only takes a few extra minutes to inspect and dispose of any weeds before you move to a new body of water.

Simply Clean, Drain, and Dry your watercraft and gear every time you haul out after use, and properly Dispose of any plants or debris you find. An extra few minutes to clean, drain and dry after every use, and to properly dispose AIS material, will help protect the Lake Tahoe watershed, your gear, and your favorite pastime.

Motorized Boat Operators

Maggie's SouthCheck your boat and trailers before launching:

  • Run your prop in reverse to knock off plants parts.
  • Remove all plant parts from boat and trailer and dispose of away from the water.
  • Drain livewells, bilge water, ballast tanks, and transom wells at the launch ramp before leaving a waterbody.
  • Empty bait buckets on land, not into the water.
  • Wash watercraft with high pressure hose at 140 degrees
  • Wash fishing equipment prior to use in another waterbody.

For more info, visit Tahoe Boat Inspections.

Thank you. We’re All in This Boat Together.

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We live in a special place. A place so beautiful it nurtures the soul and creative spirit. A place so breathtaking it inspires conservation. A mountain culture that masters the fine art of living. Welcome to this place we call home. Welcome to Lake Tahoe. Meet the local artists, individuals, businesses and events that define our unique mountain culture and embody Tahoe's creative and entrepreneurial spirit.
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