LAKE TAHOE, Calif. -- Trash as far as the eye can see on the shores of Lake Tahoe Wednesday morning. Following the 4th of July holiday, parts of the lake look more like a dumpsite than one of the country's most beautiful places.
"There was no accident about it. People partied, trashed and left it like that," said Colin West.
West is the founder of the Tahoe-based nonprofit, Clean Up the Lake.
"Everything under the sun. Shoes, flip flops, socks, hats, coolers," West said.
West says he and a group of volunteers spent the entire day Wednesday cleaning up the mess left behind by visitors. That includes trash both on the beaches and also inside the lake itself.
West tells me the group picked up over 8,500 pounds of garbage in one day.
"This has definitely been one of the worst cleanups that I have been involved in in any single day," West said.
Beyond the inconvenience, West and other locals say it's the environmental impact that has them worried.
Riley McClaughry is an animal photographer and filmmaker. He says he went out early Wednesday morning to try and see some wildlife.
But when he saw the mess that had been left behind, he decided to join the cleanup effort instead.
"There's nothing worse than seeing such a beautiful animal gorge itself on garbage and trash and plastic," McClaughry said.
While the Tahoe Basin has long been a tourist destination, many locals feel this has to stop.
That's why West is calling on all visitors to do their part to make sure this doesn't happen again.
"You're here because it's beautiful. Because it's an amazing experience to enjoy what we have in the Tahoe Basin. So we need everyone to do their best to protect it," West said.