Category Archives: River Restoration

Human modifications of the river and its flood plain damaged the rivers ability to support fish and wildlife, protect water quality, and the ability of the communities to avoid catastrophic damage from naturally occurring floods. Restoration of a more natural river channel and maintenance of an open flood plain protects private and public infrastructure investments while protecting fish and wildlife and water quality.

Truckee River Restoration and the Flood Project

Floodwalls in downtown Reno at Brick Park before the movie theater was constructed

Ever wonder why the Truckee River looks … well … bruised and abused once it gets to Nevada?  The damage to the river’s native trout and bird life has been 150 years in the making.  Today, we’re living with the consequences of decisions to divert flows and, literally, straighten out the Truckee River that were made by the first settlers to the area and subsequent generations – both good and bad.  But we had and still have a chance to do things right by the river we all love.

Flood Wall near Walmart constructed on Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Lands in 2009

Flood Wall near Walmart constructed on Reno-Sparks Indian Colony Lands in 2009

Bruce Bledsoe explains the current state of affairs of Truckee River restoration successes and otherwise in two articles just posted to our website:

You can find all of Bruce’s loaned articles (© Bruce Bledsoe, 2014) on our website under Resources and see all the Chapter title’s of Bruce’s book there as well.  And while you’re looking around don’t miss all the other posted tidbits from the Pyramid Lake water elevations of the 21st century to the Truckee River Watershed Map (produced by the Nature Conservancy).

Bruce Bledsoe’s “Truckee River Articles”

John Champion Park in Downtown Reno

Insightful research led Bruce Bledsoe’s career as a journalist and opinion page editor for the Reno Gazette-Journal.  In 2001 Bruce Bledsoe won “Editorial of the Year” with his piece: “Private briefings affront to public.”  Retiring from the newspaper business didn’t stop his desire to research interesting topics or write about them.  Let’s just say that the Truckee River stands out as interesting being one of the most fought over rivers in the nation.  Bruce has taken up the challenge to fill in the gaps in all of our knowledge of our iconic river with an entire series on the Truckee River — covering topics from atmospheric storms to zeroing in on where the diminished and diminishing “flood project” is going.

Bruce has generously provided to the Yacht Club some of his most recent insightful articles on the Truckee River, but many more are soon to be available on his website.  We’ll let you know when that happens – right here.  In the meantime, enjoy these 14 copyrighted articles found in our resources page.  We’ve put the first 6 articles online already and will add others over the next couple of months.  Check back with us to learn about not only the founding mothers of the “Yacht Club”, but how the Club influenced the flood project.

John Champion Park in Downtown Reno

John Champion Park in DownTown Reno

Bruce writes about Boise’s restoration of its much maligned and neglected namesake river and how that led to the town’s green belt success story.  And what about those “flood walls” you see (too often)?  Who thought that up?  Just what were the “Vista Reefs” that the Army Corps of Engineers engineered away?  And is it possible to protect communities from flooding caused by encroachment on river floodplains and wetlands when private property rights advocates say “anything goes”?  Bruce answers these questions – and plenty more – to help you and me understand how we got to where we are today and visualize a way forward.  Thanks, Bruce!

[Click on “Resources” and find the articles you’re interested in.  If the particular article link isn’t active, check back as we are adding them a little at a time.]

Rarest Birds of the Truckee River

The Truckee River in the high cold Great Basin Desert seems an unlikely place for rare birds to appear. But in the last five years, the River has hosted four birds that made the regional Rare Bird Alert lists. Most recently, Greg Scyphers found two quite rare birds in the riparian forests in the Truckee Canyon.

Painted Bunting.  G. Scyphers

Painted Bunting. G. Scyphers

Last fall, a female Painted Bunting was discovered hiding next to a little oxbow pond in one of the lower river restoration areas created by The Nature Conservancy.  A beautiful multi-colored sight in the lower mid-western states, the bird is rated as a “casual” fall visitor to the West.

Yellow-throated Vireo. G. Scyphers

Yellow-throated Vireo. G. Scyphers

Earlier last spring, a Yellow-throated Vireo which is common in its far eastern US range showed up in a patch of riparian forest. Catching a glimpse of this bright yellow vireo flying between willows and cottonwoods was a challenge, but all viewers enjoyed its distinctive song.


Long-tailed Duck.  (D. Ghiglieri)

Long-tailed Duck. (D. Ghiglieri)

A Long-tailed Duck (AKA Oldsquaw) graced the Truckee River in downtown Reno during the winter of 2010/11, diving and swimming underwater for its meals.  This duck usually winters off the west coast and breeds by ponds in the far-northern tundra.

Blue-winged Warbler.   (D. Ghiglieri)

Blue-winged Warbler. (D. Ghiglieri)

An even rarer Eastern warbler showed up in the fall of 2009 in another restoration area along the lower Truckee River – a Blue-winged Warbler. This brightly colored warbler lives east of the great plains in brushy meadows and is considered a “vagrant” to the West.

Historically, rare Black and White, Tennessee, Black-throated Blue, and Blackpoll Warblers, American Redstarts, a Harlequin Duck, and a Pacific Loon have been found by birders in the river or in the river trees.

Resident birds and seasonal river visitors include the American Dipper (AKA Water Ouzel), Hooded Mergansers, Barrow’s Goldeneyes, Northern Pygmy Owls, and Bullock’s Orioles.

The Truckee River continues to attract flocks of birders who enjoy both the rare and the resident birds.  Do you know of any other rare birds on the Truckee River?  I look forward to hearing about other avian gems along our river!

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Restoration Underway at Tracy

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The Nature Conservancy recently completed the construction phase of the Tracy Restoration Project on the lower Truckee River at NV Energy’s Tracy Power Plant property. After several years of planning, design and permitting, and provision of a conservation easement by NV Energy, project construction began mid-August 2013. Crews wrapped up the finish grading in January 2014, leaving a freshly contoured floodplain that is reconnected to the river and ready to be filled in with native plants by way of natural regeneration and active planting efforts. Now begins several years of revegetation efforts planned as part of the project, after which the Conservancy expects the site will be approaching the lush restored riparian woodland corridor now seen at the flagship restoration site, The Nature Conservancy’s McCarran Ranch Preserve.

Read more about this project and the Conservancy’s larger Truckee River restoration program here.

Welcome to our new Truckee River website and blog.


Floating the river is a popular summer activity which depends on healthy river flows. Floating the river is a popular summer activity which depends on healthy river flows.

Floating the river is a popular summer activity which depends on adequate river flows.

The Truckee River is the keystone of our communities from the town of Truckee in California across the state line in Nevada to the cities of Reno and Sparks, and continuing on to Wadsworth and Nixon on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation. The river is our life blood supplying water for many uses along its 114 mile length.  The river paints a different scene with its sinuous blue ribbon of water through each day and throughout the year.  It talks to its visitors in its turbulent rapids and quiet riffles alike.  It is home to fishes and birds in all seasons.  It is a place of solace for all of us.

The goal on our pages is to remind us that the Truckee River is essential to our way-of-life –  to remind us that we use the river but must not over-use the river – to remind us that a clean river is not just essential to fish and wildlife but to all of us as well – to remind us that flood plains are publicly costly places to develop businesses and infrastructure – to remind us that recreation is dependent on public access to the river – to remind us that flood-control is best achieved by not needing it – to remind us that restoring the river is akin to restoring our future.

We welcome discussion on our pages of the often complex water issues facing our communities. Understanding the important roles of water conservation, water treatment, flood control, river restoration, river recreation, and protecting the river floodplain is necessary to the formation of sound public policies to keep the river healthy for generations to come.  

We hope that the website will also offer background and resource and historical information which will inform us all.  

Your help in commenting and offering feedback will help us in making sure our information is up-to-date and accurate.