Four Wheel Campers Leads Volunteer Clean Up at Fallen Leaf Lake

A dozen volunteers hopped in the boat to assist Clean Up The Lake’s divers with debris collection, while the rest of the group spent several hours picking up litter on the trails around Fallen Leaf Lake. Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Brentano.

After getting rained out of the June 2022 cleanup at Donner Lake, Four Wheel Campers held a two-day volunteer event at Fallen Leaf Lake near Lake Tahoe in June 2023. On the first day, half of the volunteers assisted with a trail cleanup near Fallen Leaf Campground, while the rest joined “Clean Up The Lake” on the water to assist scuba divers in collecting nearly 350 pounds of debris from the bottom of the lake. Half a dozen volunteers snorkeled near the divers to help spot debris, and half a dozen more hopped into kayaks to help gather debris at the surface. One of our volunteers even served as captain for the day, driving Clean Up The Lake’s tri-toon boat.

After lunch, both groups reconvened to help unload debris. With two different cleanup crews, plus two dive groups, our volunteers also had the option to take time off after working, giving them time to explore the stunning scenery at Fallen Leaf Lake. We were pleased that everyone was able to participate in their first-choice volunteer activity.

“Four Wheel Campers and our customers appreciated the opportunity to assist the Clean Up the Lake team in their ongoing effort to restore our lakes and nature spaces,” says Dan Welty, President of Four Wheel Campers. “Through our volunteer events and donations to environmental nonprofits, Four Wheel Campers is committed to giving back to our public lands — and working with organizations that support these endeavors. To date, we’ve run four successful volunteer events alongside three conservation nonprofits, and our goal is to host one event per quarter in 2024.”

On the second day, the volunteer group spent several hours sorting through the debris gathered from Fallen Leaf Lake, along with nearly 900 pounds of debris collected at Convict and June Lakes a few weeks earlier. They began the sorting process by separating debris on several tarps, which were labeled with nine categories for material types, and 83 different use-type subcategories. The debris was then weighed and logged, and the process was repeated. Sorting and cataloging debris is just as important as removing it from the environment, as this comprehensive dataset is critical in producing educational materials and mitigation solutions. Simply put: this data gives Clean Up The Lake the information they need to present the community with ways to make a change.

After categorizing debris, volunteers weighed it and Clean Up The Lake logged the items from each cleanup. Photos courtesy of Elisabeth Brentano.

While the volunteers generally spent four to eight hours each day working at cleanup, they also enjoyed kicking back at camp. Four Wheel Campers provided camping for volunteers, plus light breakfast fare, snacks, beer, wine and one meal per day (either lunch or dinner). At our Fallen Leaf Lake event, organizers ordered two dozen sandwiches from the deli at Camp Richardson, and happy hour began around 6pm.

If you’ve been to a Four Wheel Campers rally, you know these events attract a certain crowd, and our cleanups are no different. These are the kind of folks you want to share stories with around the campfire, and from new friends to familiar faces, it’s the people who truly make these events.

After the sorting event and a leisurely lunch at camp, the group sat down for a Q&A session with Clean Up The Lake founder and executive director, Colin West. Half of our volunteers got to work alongside Colin on the first day, but it was great for everyone to get a brief history of how the org was created, and how they plan on expanding in the years to come.

Clean Up The Lake’s equipment manager Hayden Farris then gave the group a tour of the org’s research truck, which is outfitted with a Project M—a donation made by Four Wheel Campers in 2022. The full-size truck camper houses everything from scuba tanks to kayaks, and it has made pilot missions much easier, as Hayden and other staffers now have a much cozier camp setup. “It’s been a game changer for us,” Hayden said, noting that the previous setup was either a tent or the back of an SUV crammed with gear. Four Wheel Campers is thrilled to support Clean Up The Lake, and we look forward to our summer 2024 cleanup with the nonprofit, date TBD.

A handful of volunteers and Clean Up The Lake staffers who attended the June 2023 cleanup event at Fallen Leaf Lake. Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Brentano.

A special thanks to everyone who attended. The group looks forward to seeing everyone at the next cleanup! For more information on volunteer events, be sure to check the Four Wheel Campers’ Events page, and subscribe to the Four Wheel Camper monthly newsletter for updates and event coverage.

About Elisabeth Brentano 3 Articles
Elisabeth Brentano is a writer and photographer based in California, but her passion for nature takes her all over the world to produce travel and environmental content. The owner of a Ford F250 and Four Wheel Camper Project M, you can follow her at @elisabethontheroad on Instagram.

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