Tahoe Keepers Protect Lake Tahoe and other Waterbodies from Invasive Species

South Lake Tahoe, CA – A coalition of local and visiting Lake Tahoe paddlers, business owners and Tahoe Basin environmental groups are helping to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species by becoming Tahoe Keepers.

Tahoe Keepers are paddlers who inspect and decontaminate their boats and gear every time they haul out and move between new waterbodies. Non-native species, such as quagga and zebra mussels, the New Zealand mudsnail and the spiny waterflea, could irreparably damage the Lake Tahoe watershed, and their transport is illegal. These invasive species are spread through water and debris that can collect in cockpits and hatches, cling to outer hulls, rudders and paddles, and even hide out on footwear and gear long after paddling.

Paddlers can learn how to self-inspect and decontaminate their canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and inflatables at TahoeKeepers.org. Those who successfully complete the free 10-minute online training program will become members of the Tahoe Keepers stewardship community, and will receive “proof of training credentials” and a membership sticker.

“Self-inspection and decontamination of your canoe, kayak or paddleboard and gear is the best way to prevent the inadvertent introduction of aquatic invasive species into new lakes, rivers and other waters,” said Pete Brumis of the Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD). “Taking a few minutes to Clean, Drain, and Dry your gear after each use helps to safeguard the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe and other surrounding waterbodies, including Echo, Fallen Leaf and Donner Lakes.

Partners in the Tahoe Keepers program include a broad alliance of paddlers, local agencies and environmental groups including the Tahoe RCD, TRPA, Lake Tahoe Water Trail Association, California Tahoe Conservancy, League to Save Lake Tahoe, USFS, and hundreds of paddlers from Lake Tahoe and San Francisco, to as far away as North Carolina.

“We are proud to be members of the Tahoe Keepers and partners in educating the paddling public about the importance of keeping your kayaks Clean, Drained, and Dry,” said Andrew Laughlin, owner of Tahoe City Kayak and Sand Harbor Rentals. “Lake Tahoe’s clean waters and natural state are something we should all strive to preserve for posterity.”

Prevent In-Basin Transfer of Aquatic Invasive Species

Isolating and controlling aquatic invasive species already present within the Tahoe Basin is an important part of preventing the spread to other locations. Currently, there are no Asian clams, Eurasian watermilfoil or curly-leaf pondweed in Fallen Leaf Lake, Echo Lake or Spooner Lake. If you only paddle in the Lake Tahoe Basin, it is important that you inspect your watercraft and gear to ensure you are not inadvertently transporting clams or the non-native plants found in Lake Tahoe to other lakes, streams and rivers.

Watercraft inspectors from Tahoe RCD, easily identified by their red shirts and large straw hats, will be visiting popular paddling launch sites around Lake Tahoe and Fallen Leaf Lake throughout the summer to educate paddlers about aquatic invasive species and how to self-inspect watercraft and gear.

If you’ve visited a high risk waterbody, or want to play it safe, free kayak, canoe, paddleboard and non-motorized watercraft inspections and decontaminations are available at roadside watercraft inspection stations located at Meyers, Spooner Summit, Homewood Mountain, Northstar-at-Tahoe and Alpine Meadows. Directions to these roadside stations, hours of operation, and answers to frequently asked questions are also available at TahoeBoatInspections.com.

Visit TahoeKeepers.org or call the Tahoe Boat Inspections hotline at (888) 824-6267 for updates, details and more information.

About the Tahoe Resource Conservation District

The Tahoe Resource Conservation District’s (Tahoe RCD) mission is to promote the conservation and improvement of the Lake Tahoe Basin’s soil, water and related natural resources by providing leadership, information, programs, and technical assistance to all land managers, owners, organizations, and residents. The Tahoe RCD is a non-regulatory, grant funded, public agency that works with a variety of partner agencies to implement projects, programs and outreach which currently focus on erosion control, runoff infiltration, terrestrial and aquatic invasive species control, and conservation landscaping. For additional information, contact Pete Brumis at (530) 543-1501 or pbrumis@TahoeRCD.org.