For years lodging properties and recreational companies around the world have been stepping up to offer eco-friendly vacations. Now travelers are taking an active role and making conscientious efforts to travel green.
“Today’s environmental culture requires travelers to travel green,” Bill Hoffman, executive director of the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau, said. “Being respectful of naturally beautiful environments and delicate destinations is important. We all want to preserve the beauty of Lake Tahoe for future generations.”
One of the best places to learn about Tahoe’s fragile environment is the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences in Incline Village offering self-guided and docent-led tours, hands-on activities and a monthly lecture series. Here visitors can take a 3-D virtual reality flight through Lake Tahoe, peek through a microscope and view tiny aquatic creatures and learn how scientists study the lake’s water quality.
Travelers looking to get more involved can take part in one of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association’s work parties held on Tuesdays and Saturdays throughout the summer consisting of trail building and maintenance along the 165-mile loop trail.
Those exploring the Sierra Nevada terrain also embrace the principles developed by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. The principles include:
- Planning and preparing: knowing regulations and special concerns, using a map and preparing for weather and emergencies
- Traveling and camping on durable services: keep camps small and hike on designated trails
- Disposing of waste properly: pack it in, pack it out
- Leaving what you find: as well as not building structures or digging trenches
- Minimizing campfire impacts: use only a lightweight stove when possible
- Respecting wildlife
- Being considerate of other visitors: yield to other hikers
Caring for the lake also means caring for its surroundings and its inhabitants. The Sierra Nevada is home to raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, coyotes and black bears. The United States Forest Service warns against approaching wildlife for the health of the animal as well as the visitor. Animals that are approached too quickly can run into traffic, lose footing on cliffs and fall, be separated from their young, be forced to abandon their nests or dens and become more vulnerable to predators because they are distracted. Animals should not be fed (or allowed to forage) for human food. Packaging such as aluminum or plastic can severely damage the digestive system and human food can cause tooth decay, arthritis or other disease.
The Lake Tahoe’s BEAR League, a grass roots organization formed to keep bears safe, reminds guests and residents that black bears are generally docile but very smart and motivated by food. It is strongly recommended not to leave garbage out overnight unless in a bear-proof container. Other tips include putting ammonia or Pine Sol in every trash bag, not leaving pet food out overnight, cleaning barbeques and not leaving trash or food on decks, in the open, or in crawl spaces.
Being safe is important to preservation. To learn more, visit online.