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STS085-716-061
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STS085-716-061

June 6, 2011
The dark green forests of the Sierra Nevada Mts. occupy the left side of the picture. Reno lies between Lake Tahoe (center) and Pyramid Lake (top right). Lake Tahoe, is a clear, deep alpine lake (over 505 meters deep), surrounded by Montane forest, ski resorts and casinos. Although Tahoe is known as one of the clearest lakes in the world, water quality in the lake has been declining due to soil erosion from development. Since 1968, it has lost about 30 feet of clarity. A partnership was recently formed between environmentalists and resort owners to protect their common interest in keeping the lake as clear as possible. Over the last five years they have slowed the erosion and the growth of algae that it causes so that clarity is now "only" lost at a rate of roughly one foot per year. Pyramid Lake (on the upper right of the photo) is as different from Tahoe as a lake could be. The sagebrush desert around the lake and is owned by the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe who manage it as a fishery for an endangered sucker (fish), the cui-cui. The tribe has added modern fisheries' biology methods to their traditional management and chooses not to develop the lake as a recreation destination. Anaho Island, in the lower half of the lake, is a wildlife refuge managed for American White Pelicans which fly hundreds of miles each day to get from this safe breeding area to the shallow marshes where they feed. Directly above Lake Tahoe is Donner pass, near the site where the beleaguered Donner Party spent the winter of 1846 - 1847 trapped in the mountains. Several shallow ephemeral lakes can be seen in Lemmon Valley north of Reno's core urban area. These lakes would normally have dried up by August when this photo was taken, but are still wet because of the extremely wet winter and floods of January 1997.