Lake Tahoe will remain a crystal blue gem for future generations to enjoy, thanks to the dedicated vision of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. 


UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center’s (TERC) MISSION is dedicated to interdisciplinary research and education to advance the knowledge of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and their interactions within natural and developed Earth systems, and to communicate science-informed solutions worldwide.


Why is it important?

Lake Tahoe is a natural jewel in the Sierra Nevada Mountains known for its transparency and blue water. Unfortunately, over the last five decades, increased human development has had a significant impact in the Tahoe Basin. Studies from the early 1960s to the present have shown that many factors such as land disturbance, increasing resident and tourist population, habitat destruction, air pollution, soil erosion, roads and road maintenance, and loss of wetlands have all interacted to degrade the Basin's air quality, terrestrial landscape and streams, as well as the lake itself.

The lake has responded to increased nutrient loading from the streams, atmosphere and groundwater with steadily increasing algal growth (eutrophication) and a progressive reduction of clarity. The lake has lost approximately 33 feet, or one-third of its famous transparency, during the last 40 years and oxygen concentrations in the deep waters have declined significantly. Thick growths of attached algae now coat the shoreline rocks in the spring. TERC is dedicated to objective research on these and other factors at Lake Tahoe and to bringing this information to the public. 

How do they do it?

Through our education and outreach programs, the goal of TERC is to provide science-based information about the Lake Tahoe region to foster responsible action and stewardship. They provide engaging programs, exhibits, and interactive hands-on activities to stimulate curiosity, inspire an interest in environmental sciences, and motivate active conservation and preservation of freshwater resources.

Alongside their guiding principles of valuing diversity and inclusivity, the team at TERC has the vision to provide objective scientific knowledge to the public, school children, private industry, government agencies, and elected officials, and to achieve healthy aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems through scientific understanding and education for the benefit of communities locally and globally. More importantly, their aim is to guide the preservation of a resilient and sustainable ecosystem at Lake Tahoe for generations to come. 

How you can #TravelKindly:

  • Choose UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center as your local charity when you book with Kind Traveler.

  • Help TERC protect Lake Tahoe with the Citizen Science Tahoe app. Whether you’re at the beach, out on the water, or up on the mountain, you can share with TERC scientists your observations of water color, clarity, algae growth, aquatic species, litter, and winter weather through the Citizen Science Tahoe app. This will help increase understanding of conditions around the lake.

  • Pay a visit (or a virtual visit) to the Tahoe Science Center in Incline Village, NV and explore the interactive exhibits, learn about the lake ecosystem, and why it's changing, and find out how you can keep Tahoe blue. Check hours beforehand: https://tahoe.ucdavis.edu/tahoesciencecenter

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