Clean Tahoe Encourages Community to “Stash Your Trash!”

Guest Column by Clean Tahoe Exec. Director Catherine Cecchi featured in Tahoe Daily Tribune on November 14, 2017

As we all know, Lake Tahoe is a spectacular place.  Visitors come from all over the world to see and experience the lake’s clear waters and to immerse themselves in the surrounding forests and trails.  Those of us who live here have the great privilege of experiencing this beautiful place on a daily basis and of course none of us want to see trash in our environment.  Luckily, we usually don’t see a lot of litter in South Tahoe compared to some other areas, but that isn’t because the litter doesn’t exist — it is because of the hard work of the Clean Tahoe Program’s field crew.

Clean Tahoe is a nonprofit that contracts with the City of South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County to provide litter abatement services.  We recently wrapped up our fiscal year and the statistics of what our two-person field crew picked up from South Tahoe’s roadways and neighborhoods is staggering.  Consider a few statistics:

Total Litter/Debris Collected:  484 Cubic Yards (almost 5 CUBIC football fields!)

Illegal Dump Cleanups:  189 (including 63 mattresses, 86 pieces of furniture, 49

appliances, and 97 TVs) 

Animal-in-Trash Incidents/Cleanups:  493

Repeat Offender Animal-in-Trash Incidents:  102

Incidents Sent to SLT City Code Enforcement:  155

While cleaning up illegal dumps is a large part of what we do, Clean Tahoe’s field crew members also follow scheduled routes through our neighborhoods  to ensure compliance with local garbage containment ordinances and to pick up loose litter from the area.  We host     volunteer cleanup events, promote our “Be Bear Aware” outreach campaign, clean abandoned homeless camps, and coordinate with local enforcement agencies regarding garbage issues.

As we reflect on the past year, of particular concern is the number of incidents where animals — usually bears but also coyotes, raccoons, and even dogs — have knocked over trash cans or accessed dumpsters in search of food.  And while many locals might assume visitors are the only ones that let bears get into their trash,  many full-time residences and multi-family complexes are offenders as well.

Clean Tahoe is committed to cleaning up those messes so that litter doesn’t spread through our neighborhoods, but ideally we’d like to prevent them from happening in the first place.  As a community, it’s time we make it a priority to protect wildlife and keep our trash contained.  Please help us keep our community clean by following a few simple tips:

– Do not put food-related garbage out until the morning of your trash collection day (unless you have a metal bear bin).

– If you don’t have a bear bin, consider installing one — it’s a great investment and there is now a no-interest loan program where you can finance the cost through South Tahoe Refuse (call them for details – 530-541-5105)

– Be sure all trash cans have a tight-fitting lid.

– Always keep dumpsters locked when not in use.

– If you rent your property, educate your tenants or visitors on securing trash appropriately.

– If you see a trash problem in your neighborhood, please report it to the Clean Tahoe Program — 530-544-4210 or

Thank you for keeping our beautiful environment clean and litter-free!

Catherine Cecchi is the Executive Director of the Clean Tahoe Program. She can be reached at



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