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Keeping Lake Tahoe Clear

Keeping Lake Tahoe clean and clear is extremely important and is a task that everyone can help out with. Collectively we can fight the destruction and pollution of Lake Tahoe’s waters and the surrounding areas. Every day that Clearly Tahoe is out on the lake is a day spent surveying the lake for trash as well as invasive species that threaten the natural ecosystem. Clearly Tahoe participates in the Eyes on the Lake program which was designed so that the average person could get involved and help make a difference.

Eyes on the Lake was a program started by Keep Tahoe Blue in an effort to spread awareness about the threats to Lake Tahoe’s clarity and ecosystem as well as generating community involvement. A huge threat to Lake Tahoe’s clarity are invasive water plants such as the Eurasian Watermilfoil and the Curlyleaf Pondweed. Massive efforts have been undertaken to completely eliminate these threats and restore Lake Tahoe’s clarity. Identifying these plants can be difficult because we have similar plants that are naturally occurring. This is why attending an Eyes on the Lake training is key to gaining the knowledge necessary to find these plants.

Lake Clarity has been reduced by roughly 35% over the years and has stabilized at about 65 feet of clarity. In the past before efforts were undertaken to improve lake clarity places such as emerald bay were entirely filled with invasive species that were overtaking the local population. Eyes on the Lake gives locals and adventure seekers the knowledge necessary to survey the lake when out participating in recreational activities. There is even an app and an online program where people who participate in the Eyes on the Lake program can report their findings so that professional divers can go out and to survey the scene and completely and properly eradicate any invasive species that they can find. There is only so many resources available to survey the lake which is why community awareness and involvement is key to preserving Lake Tahoe for future generations to come.

Below are just a few examples of invasive and a noninvasive species here in Lake Tahoe so that you can familiarize yourself with them. If you do find invasive species you can report them at – If you do find any invasive species only collect plants floating on the surface as if you try to rip them out yourself they can fracture and the fractured pieces can travel causing infestations to spread. Please report your findings ASAP.


Eurasian Watermilfoil – Invasive

End of leaf is typically flat

                                                Stem collapses out of water                                                

Stem is red or green in color

Feathery leaves with 3-6 whorled per node

13-25 leaflet pairs per leaf

Shallow roots 




Parrot Feather Watermilfoil – Invasive 

NOT Present in Lake Tahoe 

Leaves in tightly packed whorls

Leaves are feathery and gray-green

Very dense root system

Flowers are very small, white to pale yellow and grow near leaf nodes





Curlyleaf Pondweed – Invasive

Leaf Margins (edges) are very wavy/curly

Leaves alternate and are narrow

Flowers grow above water

Turions form near leaf nodes





Richardson’s Pondweed – Native

Leaves partially clasp around stem

Leaves alternate are broad and have a slightly wavy leaf margin

Flowers can grow above water, flat on water or submersed



Brazilian Waterweed – Invasive 

NOT Present in Lake Tahoe 

Flowers above water or flat on water surface

Stem is highly branched

Leaves are whorled with 3-5 leaves per node and smooth

White flowers, one half to one inch in diameter



Hydrilla – Invasive 

NOT Present in Lake Tahoe

Serrated Leaf Edge

Leaves are whorled

Stem is highly branching with a maximum height of one foot

Turions near leaf nodes

Dense lateral root system

Flowers are small and hard to see