“… One Truckee River seeks a qualified individual contractor to provide professional services as OTR Coordinator. Initial grant funding is being provided by the Truckee River Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Nevada, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection 319 Program, and an anonymous individual donor…”
The forecast for the first week in February calls for daily high temperatures hovering close to the 60ºF mark and no snow or rain in Reno-Sparks. As winter ticks away, the chances of recovering the Tahoe-Truckee mountain snowpack to average by April 1 dim.
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.
The Truckee River watersheds in the northern Sierra around Lake Tahoe and Carson Range are essentially snowless below 7,500 feet. Even at higher elevations snow is seriously lacking.
Temperatures in the west are much above the long-term average and storms have been weak. Some rain has fallen in the mountains, but overall precipitation is down along with a snowpack of 25% or less. The weather service calls for the first significant snow storm on Thursday, but some earlier forecasts of heavy precipitation events missed the mark for the Tahoe and Truckee River areas.
The NRCS graphic shows no snow in all lower elevation areas around Lake Tahoe (7,500 and below) and very little snow-water equivalent at higher elevations for this time of the year. (For example, only 13″ of snow water equivalent at both Squaw Valley and Mt Rose.)
Jan 15 2018 snow water equivalent (click for full size)
Basin snow water equivalent percent of average (Click for full size)
Far western and southwestern water basin snowpacks are very low according to the NRCS snow surveys and automated snow recording equipment. While typical winter season continues until April 1, previous droughts since 2000 seem to show that dry early winter conditions are less likely to reverse and produce more rain and snow as winter winds down.
Snow is lacking and overall precipitation is only slightly better over the long-term average. Reservoir storage is still high because of the exceptional precipitation from last year. Despite the dismal winter snow so far, it is still possible for winter to return us to average conditions. With each day, however, that possibility shrinks in likelihood.
It didn’t snow much during the last 48 hours despite forecasts for some significant snowfall. Mt Rose Ski Resort reported only 3″ from the storm that could still produce some precipitation today and tonight while Squaw Valley reports 4″ at 8,200 ft. Forecasts call for another storm next week, but we’re still in need of significant storms to produce an average winter in the Tahoe-Truckee basin.