The City of Reno, Washoe County, and the Volunteers of America are providing 20 residents of the homeless shelters in the Truckee Meadows employment to help clean up the Truckee River along the Truckee River Trail through Reno and Sparks. The Reno Gazette-Journal reported today on the program which will provide training to the homeless shelter residents to help them achieve future employment and afford housing for themselves and their families.
Councilwoman Neoma Jardon was quoted in a news release on the City of Reno website saying, “[t]he public has expected something creative and different from us, so I’m glad that we have committed funding to this. It’s not only about instilling pride in the workers from a good hard-day’s work, but also cleaning up the river for the community.” Councilwoman Jardon was instrumental in coming up with the idea.
The Truckee River is a community asset – a treasure, really – for residents and visitors alike. Many of us spend weekends and as much free time we can get along its banks or in its water. For many residents and visitors the Truckee River Trail through both Reno and Sparks is the best way to spend a lunch hour or a day enjoying the river and absorbing a bit of nature running through our urban home. Truckee Meadows residents embraced the Truckee River and enabled the cities and county to create a trail that spans the valley from west to east right along the river. Recently, river projects at Reno’s downtown Whitewater Park and Spark’s Rock Park enhance river function and provide very popular recreation for kayakers, rafters, and swimmers. A downtown amphitheater at Wingfield Park provides a venue for performances and events enjoyed by thousands. The Trail is continuous from Ivan Sack Park in Reno all the way to Vista in Sparks.
Truckee River Trail winds along the Truckee River from Ivan Sack park in Reno to Vista in Sparks (Click to expand; map ends at McCarran Blvd)
We love the Truckee River
Most of us love the river and enjoy the river and depend on the river. We want community leaders to focus more on the river – orient buildings and activities to face the river to offer inviting spaces for all of us to experience and enhance our daily lives. And, we want the community to protect the river environment by planting and protecting the trees that line its shores, improve water quality by reducing and filtering storm runoff, improve recreational opportunities and public access for pedestrian and bicyclers, enhance fish passage by removing barriers and providing more space for the river, and create more open space along the river to protect the flood plain where it is still available as envisioned in the Community Flood Plan of 2005. More can and should be done to protect the Truckee Meadow’s most important natural feature.
Graffiti, trash, and vandalism … OH MY …
Take a walk or ride on the Truckee River Trail today. Depending on precisely where you end up along the Trail what you’ll be confronted with trash and vandalism and graffiti that not only detracts from the experience, but also keeps a good number of people from ever returning because they see the Trail itself as a threatening environment given to gang scrawls and homeless encampments. Reno, Sparks and Washoe County do try to maintain the Trail and clean up the mess left by taggers and gangs and vandals but it is an unrelenting problem requiring continual input of money and personnel. The homeless issue is a complex problem for our entire society, but it doesn’t mean that we should ignore the impact it has on the river Trail or environment. How do city and county leaders and all of us in the Truckee Meadows better address the continual damage to the Trail so that it becomes the asset it should be?
Over the spring and summer I took some photos along the Trail which helps to document the blight that confronts the Truckee River Trail walker or biker both in Sparks and Reno. To fix some of these problems will take a greater effort than has been available in the past. Are our leaders and community up to the challenge.
The two rainstorms from the over the last week in NW Reno really helped the garden. Plants are shining bright green as of early October. The small lawn – mostly brown before – is turning green again. So, we did our part to save water in the Truckee Meadows. We turned off our sprinkler system for at least the next week. We also cut back on watering beginning in September because plants don’t need as much water when night-time temperatures lower along with cooler days. It is great to see rain anytime of the year, but it’s important to remember that these kinds of storms don’t end the drought – or even make much of a dent in it.
A quick check of Lake Tahoe shows how the recent rain here in Reno didn’t translate into a significant drought impact. On September 20 Lake Tahoe’s elevation was 6,222.0 feet. Due to evaporation loses the lake continued to drop through the end of September to 6,221.9 feet. The rain over the first days of October up to the 4th saw the lake rise 6,221.95 feet, but today it is back down to 6,221.9 feet. Bottom line: the Lake stands 1.1 feet below its natural outlet – so no water can flow into the Truckee River. More than a foot of rain is needed to raise the level of Lake back to its outlet. The small rain is helpful to forests and people – and the Lake a little – but we need a lot more to truly make a difference in terms of this long-term drought.
Lake Tahoe is over 1,600 feet deep and contains a vast amount of fresh water, but has a very small watershed.
My calculation: we’re 15 years into this drought with only two above average years and a significant deficit in precipitation and river flows over that period.
Lake Tahoe’s elevation from September 28 to October 5