Wildfire smoke is likely one reason why Lake Tahoe was a little murkier last year, with researchers saying clarity decreased slightly in 2021.
The lake’s average annual clarity was 61 feet last year, compared to 63 feet in 2020. Geoffrey Schladow, the head of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, said the goal is to restore the lake’s clarity to its historic 97 feet.
“This last year and the year before were dry years and we didn’t get the kind of improvement in clarity that we expected in decades past,” Schladow said.
The lake has not fully recovered from a spike of fine particles that flowed into its waters after the extremely wet year of 2017, the report found, along with the impacts of the recent Caldor Fire.
“The clarity did go down in the wake of those fires. What’s not really understood and what these studies will address are the reasons for that,” Schladow said.
UC Davis’ studies are looking at the precise role of wildfires on lake clarity and overall lake health.
California and Nevada, which both share a border at the lake, are working together to actively clear the lake by trying to reduce pollutants that wash into the lake.
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