By: NATALIA PATTERSON
Many people throughout California enjoy visiting Lake Tahoe during their vacations. This lake is one of the most pristine in the world, having such clear water that the bottom of the lake can often be seen from its surface. In addition, it is conveniently located close to the mountains, making the view of the lake even more beautiful and allowing visitors to go skiing, sledding, and hiking during their vacations. As a result, the amount of tourism in Lake Tahoe is extremely high. In fact, an average of over 8 million tourists visit Lake Tahoe every year. However, this creates a potential problem for the lake and the nature around it.
Recently, tourists have been leaving an especially large amount of trash behind on beaches and trails. This has become such an issue that, in August 2020, this caused the residents of Lake Tahoe to organize a protest against tourism. Also, according to the Tahoe Daily Tribune, an organization called the League to Save Tahoe has collected 8,417 pounds of trash from around the lake since 2015. Likewise, California State Parks is removing 100,000 pounds of trash weekly from parks in the Tahoe area.
Lake Tahoe isn’t the only lake to be facing issues of this sort. Unfortunately, Lake Baikal, a lake that is even more pristine than Tahoe and located in Russia, has had even worse problems with tourism. The lake is home to over 2,000 species of plants and animals and contains 23% of the world’s freshwater reserves. In total, Baikal holds more water than all of the Great Lakes combined, and is the deepest lake in the world. Similarly to Tahoe, its beauty makes tourism popular, and, over the last few years, it has become the most visited tourist destination in Russia.
Even so, the small villages located near the lake are not ready for such an increase of tourism, lacking sewage and treatment facilities. This causes much of the waste to end up in the lake. This waste creates algae, an invasive species, which is responsible for killing multiple species in the lake. According to The New York Times, some locals cannot drink water out of their taps during algal blooms. Also, the algae is harming the lake’s natural beauty, turning the clear blue waters along the shoreline green.
The situation with Baikal shows us that we should treasure our most beautiful lakes, and, while visiting them, show respect to nature and the people around it by picking up our trash. As a resident of the South Shore of Lake Tahoe, Cynthia Poindexter, said in an interview with Tahoe Onstage, “I used to love when the tourists came up. Now they come here and show no respect for us. All they care about is themselves nowadays. The traffic never stops. The noise never stops.” In conclusion, we should still visit the beautiful lakes we love, but be sure to keep them pristine and stay mindful of the locals in the area.