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(1) Lake Tahoe and about 10,000 square miles of land surrounding the lake were once home to the Washoe Indians, the native peoples to Lake Tahoe.
They once wintered in the Carson Valley and spent their summers on the shores of the lake hunting, fishing and gathering foods for the winter.
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About 85 percent of all wildlife in the Tahoe Basin use these habitats.
Lake Tahoe is located in the states of California and Nevada, with two-thirds in California. The Truckee River is Tahoe’s only outlet and flows from the dam in Tahoe City east through Reno and eventually drains into Pyramid Lake in the Nevada desert. Lake Tahoe sits at an average surface elevation of between 6,223’, its natural rim, and 6,299.1’ The top 6.1’ of water is controlled by the dam in Tahoe City and holds up to 744,600 acre feet of water.
Current geologic theory suggests an earthen berm (moraine) left by a receding glacier near Olympic Valley acted as a dam, causing the lake level to rise and then draw down rapidly when the dam catastrophically failed.
Between 7,000 and 15,000 years ago, a 4-mile segment of the West Shore collapsed into the Lake causing a massive submerged debris avalanche, widening the Lake by 3 miles and creating Mc Kinney Bay.1 The Tahoe Basin is mostly granite, with little topsoil, and therefore few nutrients have washed into the lake to promote the growth of algae and other organisms that make water murky.
Urbanization of the Tahoe Basin has eliminated 75 percent of its marshes, 50 percent of its meadows and 35 percent of its steam zone habitats.Natural rim: 6,223 ft Length: 22 miles Width: 12 miles Surface Area: 192 square miles Shoreline: 72 miles Average Depth: 1,000 ft Maximum Depth: 1,644 ft Volume: 41 trillion gallons Watershed Area: 314 sq. Average water temperature: 42.1º Average surface water temp: 51.9º Average surface temp in July: 64.9º Highest Peak: Freel Peak at 10,881’ Average snowfall: 409” Age of Lake Tahoe: 2 million years Lake Tahoe, at 1,644’ deep, is the second deepest lake in the U. Roughly 2 to 3 million years ago, erupting volcanoes blocked the outlet, forcing the lake to rise hundreds of feet above its current elevation, and eventually eroding down to near its current outlet. A shallow lake began to form in the resulting valley.As well, 40 percent of the precipitation falling into the Tahoe Basin, lands directly on the lake.The remaining precipitation drains through the decomposed granite soil found in marshes and meadows, creating a good filtering system for water.
14, 1844, when John Charles Frémont and Charles Preuss spotted the lake from atop Red Lake Peak.