Keep Tahoe Blue like Tom Carter

"I’ve been Sup-ing for 5 years.  Three years ago I started working down at Waterman’s Landing for my friends Jay and Anik Wild - (a mile from my home) in Carnelian Bay.  Because I was on the water daily I had the advantage of hitting the water when the surface was smoothest and the visibility at its clearest. So naturally when you gaze down into Tahoe you don’t expect to see junk laying around on the bottom. But from the standing position the angles are just right and I saw all kinds of stuff.  Junk I couldn’t pull and stuff that I could. 

Junk, trash disappoints and people get conditioned to accept or expect it.  That’s not good, so the next time I paddled over a tire I gave it a go and dove down the heaved it onto my board and it felt good to be removing something that didn’t belong in the Lake.

People didn’t throw the tires into the Lake.  The tires mostly came off dock and piers.  They were used as bumpers and when storms tore the pilings loose or the structures finally floated out into the lake and sunk the tires were scattered about.  Some were set up to be used as anchors for light watercraft too.

There are all kinds of situations that create difficult conditions when retrieving the tires including wind chop (even a slight breeze) boat traffic, the lighting, the angle of the sun, water temps etc.  So it took me three years to hit 101 tires!  I developed a map or checklist of sorts to track the tires that I discovered or was told about so I could time the conditions to be there at the right times.

Basically I’m a really simple guy - don’t like carrying extra stuff around so I made it a point to do the collecting from my board and to go as organic as possible.  Patagonia gave me a sweet short john and that really extended my season this year!!!  No fins, power tools, nor scuba, just me.  I like the freedom and the challenge of standing on my Tahoe SUP board and looking down and figuring out what it will take - how deep?  Is it stuck into the bottom?  Will it take multiple dives?  Is it a classic “Great Whitewall"? 

I’ve gone over 35’ for those buggers - it’s rewarding.  When you have a job down there its way easier to hold your breath.  It’s stimulating.  We also got four car engines (used as old anchors) out this season too. We dug those out of the sand and ran them in tandem (like running rocks) or rolled them along the bottom until we hit the shore.  The water column displaces approximately 30% of the objects weight, so the lifting is easier than you would think.

All kinds of boat parts, boat covers, pipe etc. is down there.  I’m alway bummed when the water gets cold enough to dissuade me - usually in mid October, although I went in for some stuff last week.


The goal is for people to see nature without a bump, without our marks.  People don’t intentionally throw things into Lake Tahoe.  But if we all pick up a piece of junk, of trash, the beauty shines through - people need to see uninterrupted nature.  It is liberating and peaceful.  Little things make a difference and we all need to know we can do something good for the planet, for everyone.

From here forward I will continue to pull and collect trash both in and on the shores of the Lake.  I’d like to create some “art” out of some unique pieces and someday have an auction, to raise some money to finance more cleanups at Lake Tahoe.  I would like to thank everyone along the way who was enthusiastic and encouraging." 

Keep Tahoe Blue.

- Tom Carter 

(more from Tom on the Waterman's Landing page, click here