Encampments spread along the Truckee River Bikeway in Sparks

Unfortunately, too many people build shelters up and down the Truckee River Bike way and walking path. The Truckee River and bike way are a major amenity for residents and visitors alike – at least they should be.

Today, after a brief walk along the Truckee, I saw at least a dozen people occupying some 8 (or more) makeshift camps on the north bank between Greg Street and a hundred yards beyond Rock Park in Sparks. The camps and, indeed, the path itself are littered with debris, grocery carts with food or clothing, smoldering camp fires, tents, tarps, handmade shelters, and stashes of bags.

Encampment along Truckee River Bike path & trail

The river path is fast changing from a scenic river corridor offering rejuvenation and recreation to an unhealthy slum. Why? Although, this part of the bike way is in Sparks, the encampments are also widely present in Reno, too.

How can the cities of Reno and Sparks solve the problem to have safe places for camps away from the river? Bathroom facilities are not available to the homeless or are far from the encampments. Too often that means the river itself becomes the default repository. Camps produce all manner of waste because of their permanent occupancy. Why are these unhealthy encampments allowed along the river? The need to provide secure and clean places for homeless people is long overdue.

Over the years, encampments, trash, graffiti, discarded carts, and makeshift camps are increasing and expanding in size. Seemingly permanent encampment residents lay claim to the river with large, occupied spaces. Many places along the river bike path appear unsafe to reach the river itself because camps are occupied by people guarding their possessions.

City and county government need to take action to move these encampments to protect the river from pollution and return the bike path to beauty and safety for everyone to enjoy.

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About Dennis Ghiglieri

My concern for the Truckee River grew over the years. It started with picking up trash and supporting better water quality. I helped create the "living river"plan with other citizens on the Community Flood Coalition; a plan to reduce flood impacts to infrastructure through river restoration and protection of the floodplain. I understand how critical the Truckee River is to the environment – and economy – of our entire region. I'm hoping that through these pages we can all understand our connection to the Truckee River and why we need to protect it.

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