Truckee River Watershed: Steamboat Creek

One of the last tributaries on your way out of town (heading east) is the famous Steamboat Creek.

“Now how in the world is a creek famous?” you may wonder.

Well, around these parts, Steamboat Creek drains over 156,000 acres of land — more than any other creek in the Truckee Meadows region! Steamboat Creek starts down south at Washoe Lake and heads north, collecting water from Mount Rose, Southwest Reno, and the airport, and ultimately ends up in the Truckee River, right next to the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility.

The Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility (TMWRF) sits on the eastern edge of Sparks, just south of the Truckee River.
A view from the Tahoe-Pyramid Bikeway, looking at the Truckee River. You can just see where Steamboat Creek enters the river. The Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility is on the left had side.
A closer look at where Steamboat Creek enters the Truckee River.

In addition to those 156,000 acres, water that cycles through the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility ends up very fresh and very clean and is put into Steamboat Creek to almost immediately enter the Truckee River. (More on that process here.)

According to the City of Reno, the thick algae growing on the surface on Steamboat Creek means agriculture waste, fertilizers, and/or carwash soaps are ending up in the tributary. Bummer.

Noxious weeds are pretty common along this creek, and in some parts these weeds are the only plant seen. This includes tall whitetop, purple loosestrife and musk thistle.

Wildlife found is similar across the entire watershed, and includes:  black bear, bobcat, red fox, rattlesnake, bald eagle, golden eagle, barn owl, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, pacific chorus frog, and monarch butterfly.

Photos below were taken farther south down Steamboat Creek:

A look at Steamboat Creek after it passes under Pembroke Drive in the Hidden Valley area, heading north to its final destination: the Truckee River.
The creek passing by RC Willey in South Reno.
The creek passing by RC Willey in South Reno.

Truckee River Watershed: North Truckee Drain

In an effort to explore not just the Truckee River, but more of its watershed, we’ve started visiting each tributary feeding our favorite river.

To kick things off, we chose the North Truckee Drain, located in the Sparks/Spanish Springs area.

Thanks to our friends at the City of Reno and this spectacular watershed map, we know this drain begins in the Wingfield Springs area in Sparks, and travels south by fields and pastures, through flumes and channels, along Sparks Boulevard, across I-80 and ends up in the Truckee River.

Taken at the intersection of Spanish Springs Road and Bria Circle.
Taken just north of the intersection of Spanish Springs Road and Bria Circle.
Taken at the intersection of Sparks Blvd. and O’Callaghan Dr./Springland Dr.

Wildlife along this tributary include (but is definitely not limited to) black bear, bobcat, mountain lion, red fox, rattlesnake, bald eagle, golden eagle, barn owl, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, pacific chorus frog, and monarch butterfly.

Tabling at Truckee River Day

Truckee River Day officially originated in 1996, after a few committed locals planned and implemented a cleanup event to address the decline of the Truckee River in and around Truckee using a few hundred volunteers. From there, the Truckee River Watershed Council (TRWC) was formed and grew into organization that has mobilized over 472,000 volunteers and raised $11.5 million in funding for more than 50 large-scaled and numerous smaller-scaled restoration projects.

Working on the watershed level, this a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that strives to revive the Truckee River watershed.  FORIVER is what sums up their beliefs. Working together in the community, the focus is on reviving the watershed because that is what feeds the river. TRWC believes in working to make the river resilient and vibrant so nature and humanity can thrive here forever.

Their multi-faceted approach combines science, management, funding and education. There are multiple ways for individual and communities can be involved. River Talks help to increase the awareness and knowledge of the issues in the watershed. For a fully immersed experience, Adopt A Stream provides an opportunity for volunteers to become watershed scientists, sampling the river water and some of the inhabitants.  By practicing River Friendly Landscaping, those in the community can do their part at home, on their own property.  TRWC provides loads of information and resources, and there are rebates that could help cover some of the costs.  Donations are always accepted to help promote watershed protection provided by this organization.

Finally, the annual fall Truckee River Day and Fair provides an opportunity to join hundreds of other volunteers to be part of what started it all – meadow, lake, river restoration at the watershed level by people in the community. We had the opportunity to table at the 2017 Truckee River Day. This was our first opportunity to work with the TRWC, and one of our first times mixing with Truckee River folks in California. We had a blast!

Renegades on the Fly + Pig Farm Ink

Renegades on the Fly and Pig Farm Ink combined forces for the 2017 Truckee River Clean Up on September 30th, making Reno their last stop as they traversed the United States joining river clean up efforts, fishing, partying and doing some good in their nationwide “Get Trashed” campaign.

This diverse and interesting group of volunteers came together in Glendale Park in Sparks to help KTMB and dedicated local volunteers to remove trash from within the river and the immediate surrounding area.  In addition to cleaning up trash, Renegades on the Fly and Pig Farm Ink members incorporated fishing and enjoying the sights and sounds of the outdoors.

This loose but effective group of creative, energetic and community-minded individuals entered the water and scoured the water’s edge to find discarded wastes. The piles of trash they help secure for proper disposal made a significant impact to the Truckee River and our community.  Thanks guys!

Pig Farm Ink is sponsored in part by Costa, Scientific Anglers, Pyramid Fly Co, Vedavoo, Postfly, Yeti, Rising, Howler Brothers, Traeger Grills, Redington, and Simms.

New One Truckee River family members!

Out with the (beloved) old; in with the new!

This past August we said farewell to our wonderful OTR AmeriCorps members, Emily Ulrich, Meg Parker, Cessie Pulleyn, and Nick Mazzoni. A month later, our new ones came aboard!

Meet Elise Traywick and Patricia Tierney:


I am originally from North Carolina, but have spent the past several years of my life studying at New York University in Manhattan, where I recently received a degree in Environmental Studies. Now, I’m taking on the West, with a goal of helping the environment while serving the community. My favorite things in the world are dogs, cats, and yummy vegan food. I’m incredibly excited to start exploring and contributing to this wonderful part of the country.


I’m a native Floridian with a deep-seated love for all things nature. The wide open spaces and outdoor recreational opportunities of this vicinity lured me out west.  However, it was the opportunity to serve the Reno community in “helping ensure that a healthy, thriving sustainable Truckee River is connected to the hearts and minds of the people” that had me commit to relocating here with my little dog, Frisky. I bring a diverse background related to science education, conservation, environmental study and protection, and having fun outdoors.

Discover the Heart of Our Community

There is now officially a One Truckee River story map!

This story map is an interactive web page that shares river-related information about amenities, recreation, safety, and plants/wildlife in a visually appealing way. We have interactive maps with icons and pictures to provide users a great grasp on the many qualities the Truckee River has to share!

And it’s all thanks to OTR’s (former) AmeriCorps member, Emily Ulrich:

Emily began her AmeriCorps period with us by going out along the Truckee River stretch in Reno and Sparks and mapping every single trash can, restroom, picnic table and crack in the sidewalk. She then took all that information and put it into a map (now shown as part of our story map). From there, Emily worked with the Truckee River Guide‘s Kelsey Fitzgerald to input popular plant and animal species found in and along the river.

Overall, the story map is a visually stunning way to share important information about the Truckee River. Thanks, Emily, for doing such a great job in putting everything together!

Willie and water

By Tina Hogue

It was hot that day, even in the hallways inside, and in the corner of a pen, a dusty bear-skinned dog named ‘Willie’ had his belly on the concrete trying to keep cool.

“He loves water,” the guy at the desk said, “he’ll just lay in it.”

“Maybe he’s part Lab?” we wondered. So we took him home and tried our best to bathe him, repeatedly.

Apparently, this dog did not like water.

He avoided the bathrooms at all cost, had a distaste for sprinklers, and got very suspicious whenever I turned on a faucet.

So imagine my surprise when one day, at Mayberry Park, this thing stuck his paw right into the swirling Truckee river.

He pulled it back immediately. I think he surprised himself a little bit. And then, I’ll be damned, he stuck it back in.

Standing there, wide-eyed and breathless, he looked like how children look when they stand in front of the ocean that moment right before something, deep inside, compels them to go on in.

Something, in the perpetual movement and gray-blue clamor of the Truckee, is just hypnotic. Ancient and ethereal, it curves around trees thick as sedans that it nurtured from seedlings and washes over beer cans from 4th of Julys past, soldered to the rocks by algae, those rocks older than 4th of July itself.

“Older than the flow of human blood through human veins,” wrote Hughes, each year bearing a new mark of age, but the path stays the same.

Up to his chest, staring intently at the water, I imagined Willie too was pondering the river, asking it in a child’s voice: How deep are you? Where do you go? How are you different from the water in my bowl? In my bath? And how long will you stay?

She is current: Raging and still

By Angela Spires

“Ducks! Ducks! Wanna feed the ducks!” my daughter Aspen shouted as we walked by the river waiting on the Artown vendors. I rolled her pants legs up and let her dip her feet in the water. I squatted behind her, held one hand, as she dipped the other into a carton of oatmeal for the ducks wading nearby. The river ran¬ slow and steady, and in that moment, reminded me of my daughter.

How she flooded and raged, poured full of emotion, until it drained from her and she sank to the ground in frustration and need. She was every current: fast, slow, everything in between, whatever the mood called for, whatever she felt she needed to be in that moment, unafraid. She was gentle, laying her face against mine to kiss my cheeks as the water kissed the banks. She was still, contemplating her next move, observing her surroundings, deciding which way to flow.

Aspen attempted to throw oatmeal into the water, most of it landing on her or within a few inches. I threw it further out. The ducks moved closer. She laughed as they nipped at her toes. More were moving toward us, floating down stream, frantically swimming upstream, to the source of food. Fighting over specks of flakes, though there was enough to go around. The river was calm, allowing more ducks to come. But calm was but one of her states. She was fierce, unpredictable, and beautiful nonetheless.

Now, my daughter unknowing mirrored the ducks she fed. Above the water, she kicked her feet on the surface. Below, the ducks kicked their feet to stay afloat. And I, I admired the beauty in what the river had made for us and what I had made for the river.