The Truckee River Trail through Reno attracts residents and visitors alike. The river environment can be a source of peace and rejuvenation. It is more than just a water supply for the cities; it is a true recreational resource providing a scenic trail throughout urban Reno and Sparks all along the clear, flowing waters of the Truckee River. The community has invested to make this trail a treasure for all.
Trouble in river city
The Truckee River Trail is also the default location for many of the area’s homeless and graffiti taggers. Many of us who advocated for creating and expanding the recreational trail along the river to connect the urban environment to the natural environment of the Truckee River never foresaw the extent to which the trail would become a literal semi-permanent campground with ever increasing graffiti tagging. People I’ve spoken to tell me they avoid the Truckee River trail downriver of Idlewild Park due to the urban troubles intruding into and taking over the natural environment with trash and camps and tagging. The encampments, when “cleared out” quickly return in the same or new locations. Some trash often remains scattered across the banks of the river – bottles, wrappers, bags, blankets, baskets, etc. – regardless whether the site is occupied by the campers or not.
I’m revisiting the issue of encampments, trash and graffiti again in the hope that we can change our approach to keeping the river clean and stop pollution from the encampments. Right today there is not much reduction in the encampments, trash and graffiti that I observed and wrote about 3 years ago. Below are scenes along the Truckee River from downtown Reno to Greg Street taken in late September of last year. [I’ve digitally edited the graffiti so that it is not identifiable; this reduces the “in your face” aspect of the tags, but prevents advertising it.]
Truckee River Trail needs help
As the City Council’s and County Commissioner’s try to deal with the issue of homelessness, the Truckee River Trail impacts continue to mount. The river environment becomes an unfortunate camping ground and restroom for hundreds of people seeking temporary or permanent shelter along it. The issues that surround homelessness likely leads to much of the trash found along the river banks. The lack of regular pickup of trash and cleaning up discarded items of clothing, food containers, makeshift shelters also encourages graffiti taggers to add to the atmosphere of neglect and abandonment. An Insufficient number and desperately inadequate restroom facilities throughout the urban trail portion contribute to the pollution and inhumane conditions.
Can our Council’s and Commissioner’s focus their attention to the daily negative impacts to the Truckee River – throughout its urban reach – by funding new staff for clean up efforts? How about if the community funded the installation of more restrooms? And clean and refresh those restrooms 3 or more times per day and keep them open at least from 6AM to 10PM everyday?
The Truckee River is the community’s lifeline for our water supply but so much more. It deserves more attention from our elected leaders to fund clean up crews on a daily basis – not just when a homeless “clear out” is in the works.