Amidst Litter Crisis: Clean Up The Lake Launches Environmental Dive Center to Protect Lake Tahoe

SnowBrains |
Microplastic all over the lake
When this much trash annually litters the shore, is it a surprise that Lake Tahoe has a concerningly high concentration of microplastics? July 5, 2023 | Image: Keep Tahoe Blue Facebook

Launch of Environmental Dive Center by Clean Up The Lake is funded by a $125K total matching campaign from Boatworks at Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe Community College, Tahoe Beach Club, and Pavel Pragin & Nila Ruslen

Clean Up The Lake, renowned for its successful 72 Mile Cleanup project, proudly announces the inauguration of its revolutionary Environmental Dive Center (EDC) at Lake Tahoe. The EDC will be a hybrid between a conservation dive school and an environmental science center in the heart of Incline Village, NV. This transformative initiative marks a significant leap in the fight against all litter and aquatic invasive species (AIS) in and around Lake Tahoe. “Clean Up The Lake is striving to create a more sustainable future not only through cleanup efforts but also through advocacy & preventative action and, most importantly, a transformative educational program based at the environmental dive center,” says Founder & CEO Colin West.

“The center will be the first of its kind,” says West. With a grand opening date set for August 17th, 2023, the EDC will include a classroom for all environmental dive courses that will double as a boardroom, a location for environmental film screenings, a space for litter categorization and data collection events, as well as more opportunity for engaging experiences including an expansion of internship programs and on-site visits for youth groups and classrooms. “We are taking innovative strides to offer visitors and locals alike a unique blend of environmental curriculum and traditional SCUBA certifications,” says Director of Programs Sadye Easler. Aspiring divers receive world-class SCUBA instruction from PADI Instructors. They will also learn about environmental subjects ranging from submerged litter issues in freshwater and marine environments, aquatic invasive species, and more, both in the classroom and underwater. These courses will also teach Clean Up The Lake’s submerged litter cleanup methods, AIS survey techniques, and other important approaches the organization uses in its conservation dive programs.

The First Certified Students:  The Washoe Tribe of NV & CA

Clean Up The Lake is thrilled to have completed its first class. The first certified students of the EDC were, in fact, members of The Washoe Tribe of NV & CA. The goal of this class was to share with the tribe and their environmental department vital skill sets to safeguard their ancestral homeland and assist wherever possible in bolstering their own environmental programs. A statement from the tribe regarding their partnership with Clean Up The Lake is included below.

A Hub for Environmental Initiatives: Cleanups, AIS, and the Lake Tahoe Litter Summit

The Environmental Dive Center will be the epicenter for all Clean Up The Lake programs. This ranges from lake remediation and cleanup projects in Lake Tahoe & nearby lakes as well as advocacy and litter prevention initiatives such as the 2nd annual Lake Tahoe Litter Summit. The 2024 Litter Summit is now in partnership with Lake Tahoe Community College (LTCC). LTCC President Jeff Defranco said, “LTCC is committed to environmental sustainability and curbing climate change.   We are proud to partner with Clean Up The Lake to collaborate on solutions to the litter challenges facing the Tahoe Basin”. The 2nd annual Lake Tahoe Litter Summit will be in May of 2024. In the meantime, two committees are developing to tackle issues addressed at the inaugural Litter Summit. The 2024 Litter Summit will include an invite-only portion at the Thunderbird Lodge with community members & leaders in litter management. South Lake Tahoe will also bring a public portion of the Summit at a location to be announced soon.

The organization is also proud to announce the EDC will host Tahoe Keepers sessions in partnership with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA). This program focuses on mitigating aquatic invasive species in non-motorized vessels, which also includes SCUBA equipment. In the 2024 calendar year, the EDC will integrate a nationally recognized scientific dive certification program. Universities, government, and scientific institutions often use these dive programs.

A Global Perspective: Sharing Knowledge and Partnerships

The EDC is dedicated to training local volunteers and newcomers and aspires to share knowledge and collaborate with organizations, non-profits, and dive teams worldwide. By doing so, the non-profit hopes to broaden its impact, allowing the work they perform locally in the Tahoe basin to guide other groups globally. Their recent work with the Washoe Tribe of NV & CA represents a first step forward in working to share these skill sets to create a larger impact with other communities. The team is ensuring to act locally while thinking globally.

Building Partnerships for a Better Future: Generous Donations and Opportunities

Generous donations from esteemed partners, including Boatworks Mall at Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe Community College (LTCC), Tahoe Beach Club, and donors Pavel Pragin and Nila Ruslen, have spearheaded the Environmental Dive Center’s establishment. With their support, CUTL can match your donations up to $125,000. So please go to or and donate now. If you are interested in a more significant level of support, naming rights opportunities and founding partnerships are available for individual donors and corporate partners. The launch of the EDC would also not be possible without the support of its in-kind donors like Truckee Tahoe Lumber Company, Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District, Tahoe Table Company & Snowcap Architecture.

The doors will open on Monday, August 14th, 2023, with a Grand Opening Celebration on August 17th, 2023. During its open hours, the Environmental Dive Center welcomes all enthusiasts, volunteers, interested divers, and partners. Together, the community has a resource to protect Lake Tahoe’s clarity from microplastics, all litter, aquatic invasive species, and more for generations to come.

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