Truckee River Watershed: North Evans Creek

North Evans Creek is the creek that you might not realize you’re seeing if you’ve wandered around Rancho San Rafael Park in Reno.

Flowing south from the Panther Valley area, this creek flows along North Virginia Street before entering Rancho.

North Evans Creek follows Evans Canyon Trail from Vista Rafael Way to the Nature Trail in the northern portion of Rancho, and under North McCarran Blvd. Once the creek passes McCarran, rock weirs capture the flows to create a wetland.

More on the wetland from the City of Reno’s watershed map: “This wetland was constructed to manage the higher flows coming down Evans Creek (in lieu of building a dam just above the Nature Trail across McCarran), allow pollution to settle out in the flat areas, and reduce flooding of Sierra Street.”

From there, the water makes its way to Herman’s Pond and the arboretum before it hits Evans Street and goes underground.

Herman’s Pond at Rancho San Rafael Park.

Once underground, North Evans Creek does not see the light of day before dumping into the Truckee River near Record Street. Quite the journey!

Similar to Chalk Creek, North Evans Creek used to only flow in response to snow or rain storms. With the urbanization of the Truckee Meadows, however, the lower portion of this stream and others in the area tend to flow year-round.

In the upper portion of North Evans Creek common vegetation includes willow, wood rose, cottonwood, service berry, Rye, crested wheat, tall wheat, Jeffrey pine, white fir and native wildflowers.

The lower portion of the creek is home to cottonwood, cattail, choke cherry, wood rose, Great Basin Wild Rye, rabbits foot, and invasive weeds (think tall whitetop, puncture vine, burr buttercup and more).

Regarding wildlife, along this creek you’re most likely to see coyote, jack rabbit, cottontail, marmot, raccoon, red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, raven, and black-billed magpie to name a few.

Truckee River Watershed: Chalk Creek

Sitting up in Northwest Reno is Chalk Creek — one of multiple tributaries trickling down from Peavine Mountain and the surrounding hills into the Truckee River.

Prior to urbanization in the area, Chalk Creek flowed only in response to storm events. Once residential and commercial buildings began to appear, the lower parts of Chalk Creek began to flow year-round.

Taken off Crown View Drive. Here, Chalk Creek is flowing in a low valley between residential neighborhoods. Just around the hill on the left side of the picture the creek will pass under I-80.

The creek flows alongside many parks and walking trails in Northwest Reno; along Robb Drive, past McQueen High School, through residential neighborhoods, by Rainbow Ridge Park and through a valley, under I-80 and then under 4th Street (west of McCarran Blvd.) before it enters the Truckee River.

Chalk Creek is a dryer creek, and a lot of wildlife is drawn in by the water.

Some of the common wildlife found along this creek are coyote, jack rabbit, cottontail, marmot, raccoon, striped skunk, ground squirrel and chipmunk. Birds include red-tailed hawk, American kestrel, raven, and black-billed magpie. Closer to wetland areas might be Canada goose, mallard, American coot and northern shoveler, to name a few.

A wash area between Seventh Street and Daybreak Driver. During storms or snowmelt, Chalk Creek flows quickly through.

In the upper watershed, vegetation includes willow, wood rose, cottonwood. and service berry. Adjacent meadows are filled with grasses such as crested wheat, tall wheat, and bluebench wheat.

According to the City of Reno’s Truckee River Watershed map, Chalk Creek (and Mogul Creek) sits “on a unique geologic formation named the ‘Hunter Creek Sandstone Formation,’ which contains very high amounts of salts in the soil. Historically these creeks were dry most of the year, with water flowing only in response to rain or snow.

“Over the years, with population growth, new construction, paved roads and irrigation, the creeks are now flowing year-round! The increase in water moving into the ground through our lawns, parks and golf courses leaches the salts out as well. What does this mean? Chalk Creek (and Mogul Creek to the west) now contain very high amounts of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), a pollutant to the Truckee River.

“Have you seen crusty salts at the edge of the water? This is TDS, popping out with water seeps in the creek canyons, deposited near the water’s edge. TDS is bad for downstream wildlife, and bad for our drinking water.”

Below are some things you can do at home to cause less homemade pollutants in the Truckee River:

  • Consider using less water in your yard at home. That might include less grass and more shrubs on a drip watering system or making sure your sprinkler system is on a timer to avoid over-watering.
  • Wash your car at a car wash instead of in your driveway. Commercial car washes recycle their water and filter it before it enters the local storm drains. Washing your car at home causes soap and other contaminants to end up in the gutter and then into our creeks and river.
  • The less fertilizers used on your lawn, the better. Fertilizer is transported quite easily downstream thanks to clays. The fertilizer chemicals used in our lawns grows algae in the creeks and rivers downstream.

Truckee River Watershed: Dog Creek and Sunrise Creek

We lumped Dog Creek and Sunrise Creek together due to size and location — basically, Sunrise Creek is teensy and it’s right next to Dog Creek.

Dog Creek and Sunrise Creek sit up in Verdi, flowing down from the east-facing mountains between Stampede Reservoir and Verdi and into the Truckee River.

Dog Creek passes through Dog Valley, a beautiful spot in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest made up forests, streams and meadows. Once Dog Creek enters Nevada, it pretty quickly empties into the Truckee River.

Dog Creek emptying into the Truckee River. Photo taken from the Crystal Park Bridge in Verdi.

According to the Forest Service, “Dog Valley is… home to two rare plant species, Dog Valley ivesia and Webber’s ivesia. Dog Valley ivesia can only be found in Dog Valley.”

Other plant-life along Dog Creek includes mahala mat, silvery lupine, and chokecherry, shooting stars, delphinium, and Rydberg’s penstemon.

Sunrise Creek is just a bit upstream from Dog Creek, and thanks to its lack of activity, is an excellent habitat for wildlife and birds.

Sunrise Creek just before it passes under Bridge Street in Verdi.

Sunrise Creek drops down steeply from the mountains before it ends up in the Truckee River.

Riparian plants along this tributary include willow, cottonwood, alder, wood rose, service berry, choke cherry, rushes, sedges, horsetails and wildflowers.

Wildlife found around both Sunrise Creek and Dog Creek 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.

Truckee River Watershed: Dry Creek

We promise we won’t make any cliche jokes about how Dry Creek isn’t very dry right now……….

Dry Creek is a tributary of the Truckee River that starts in the Southwest Reno area (Lakeside/Holcomb Ranch), shimmies northeasterly past the airport and into Boynton Slough, where it joins Steamboat Creek on its road to the Truckee River.

Below are shots of Boynton Slough, which is fed by Dry Creek.

(Thank you to the Canada geese for modeling for us.)

The following plants, among others, are common along Dry Creek: Incense cedar, Jeffrey Pine, red and white fir, Pinyon pine, juniper, willows, Native rose, Russian olive, elm, and cattails.

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.

The below pictures were taken off Sierra Center Parkway:

Its very own sign!
A close-up, featuring some snow.
Looking to Mount Rose in the distance.

Truckee River Watershed: South Evans Creek

On the Friday before Christmas, we headed to South Evans Creek to do some ‘sploring.

South Evans Creek drains from the foothills on the western edge of Reno. The headwaters emerge from alpine springs in vast meadows surrounded by dry forests, and trickle down canyons, through residential developments, through Bartley Ranch Park and into Dry Creek and Boynton Slough, where the water eventually ends up in the Truckee River.

In the upper South Evans Creek watershed, common plant-life includes Incense cedar, Sugar pine, red and white fir, Tobacco bush, rushes, sedges, lupine, phlox, and Arrowleaf balsamroot.

Down in the lower part of the creek, you’ll find Desert peach, Mormon tea, dogwood, Russian olive, broom snakeweed, Indian paintbrush, cattail, Medusa head grass, tansy mustard, and clover.

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.

Taken on Range View Lane, looking west. The creek is flowing down from the western foothills of Reno.
Taken on Evans Creek Drive looking west.
South Evans Creek runs through the famous Bartley Ranch Park.
Bartley Ranch has tons of trails to roam, and some of those trails cross over South Evans Creek.

Workshop to plan for 2018

Since the One Truckee River Management Plan’s adoption by Reno, Sparks and Washoe County in September 2016, stakeholders have accomplished a lot of action items. Mile makers have been installed; amenities along the river were mapped; a community knowledge survey about the Truckee River watershed was distributed; life jacket stations were installed at parks… we could go on.

For the year 2018, we approached things a little differently. Instead of completing action items based on money we (Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful and Nevada Land Trust) knew we had or could get, we gathered the troops to decide what our approach would be.

One Truckee River is undergoing a structural change. Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful and Nevada Land Trust are working to include local agencies more in the leadership positions. This OTR workshop, held on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, allowed KTMB and NLT to take a seat at the table as equal participants.

During our September 2017 Partnership Council meeting, four topics were decided upon by the group to address during 2018:

  1. Signage Plan & River Safety: Includes creating a multi-jurisdictional signage plan along the Truckee River and enhancing river visitor safety.​
  2. Funding, Metrics For Success, Structure: Includes assessing existing groups and structures for possible entities to house the management of OTR; and creating metrics for measuring success and achievements of the plan.​
  3. Housing and Sanitation: Includes ensuring adequate public restrooms along the Truckee River; and expanding the continuum of housing options for the homeless population.​
  4. Storm Water, Vegetation, Watershed Management: Includes identifying locations of all high-volume storm drains/large storm water contributions to the river; developing a coordinated vegetation management plan along the river; and developing a Truckee River Watershed Management Plan.​

Volunteers came forward to co-captain each team. These co-captains were responsible for building their teams with appropriate experts in the field. The co-captains:

Signage Plan & River Safety: ​
Darrin Price, Sun Valley GID General Manager
Cheryl Surface, Washoe County Park Planner

Funding, Metrics For Success, Structure: ​
John Enloe, Truckee Meadows Water Authority Director of Natural Resources
Birgit Henson, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection Branch Supervisor

Housing and Sanitation: ​
Mickey Hazelwood, The Nature Conservancy Truckee River Project Director
Sheila Leslie, Washoe County Behavioral Health Program Coordinator

Storm Water, Vegetation, Watershed Management: ​
Danielle Henderson, Truckee River Flood Management Authority Natural Resource Manager
Tracy Turner, former Chief Philanthropy Officer with the Community Foundation of Western Nevada

Yesterday, during the forum, each group gathered to address exactly which strategies will be addressed (and ideally completed, though it depends on the action item) during next year. The groups will meet regularly, under the co-captains’ guidance, and make sure progress is moving forward.

We’re thrilled to see where the year 2018 takes us, and how much closer we’ll get to caring for the Truckee River, and showing it the love it deserves.

One Truckee River is hiring an OTR Coordinator!

For the first time ever, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful and Nevada Land Trust are hiring a One Truckee River-specific position: A One Truckee River coordinator!

One Truckee River seeks a qualified consultant to provide professional services as OTR Coordinator, thanks to initial grant funding provided by the Truckee River Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Nevada and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection 319 Program.

Full application available here.

The Coordinator’s primary role will be to manage the work of the OTR Partnership. Duties may include the following:

  • Coordinate with OTR Partners on implementation, tracking, and progress reporting on the goals and action items related to the OTR Phase I Management Plan;
  • Facilitate creation, maintenance, reporting, and oversight of the Partnership’s annual work plan;
  • Work closely on behalf of OTR with Resource Concepts, Inc. and Nevada Division of Environmental Protection to augment current efforts and help facilitate continued development of a seamless, cohesive Source Water and Watershed Protection Program Plan for the Truckee River watershed;
  • Communicate with partner agencies and funders, such as providing updates to elected officials on activities and issues related to OTR;
  • Serve as first point of contact for OTR Partnership and media inquiries;
  • Coordinate meetings and events of the Partnership, including agenda development, notifications, note taking, and follow-up;
  • Identify and develop potential funding opportunities, as well as conduct grant research, writing, and submission;
  • Coordinate with OTR fiscal agent to manage existing grant funds, including budgeting, quarterly reporting, compliance with funding source requirements, and final reporting; and,
  • Forge cooperative relationships and agreements between existing OTR Partners as well as with future OTR Partners.

The selected consultant retained by One Truckee River will contract with Nevada Land Trust, in NLT’s capacity as fiscal partner of OTR, and will report to the executive directors of KTMB and NLT. The initial contract term is will be for 12 months, beginning late January 2018. The option to renew twice for an additional 6 months, or up to 12 additional months will be based on available funding and satisfactory work product.

Deadline: To be considered for the One Truckee River Coordinator contract position, please submit a proposal with a cover letter indicating interest, qualifications/experience, references, and fee schedule, no later than 4pm Friday, January 5, 2018. Electronic delivery via email is preferred (with OTR Coordinator RFP in the subject line) to a.hoeft@nevadalandtrust.org, or by courier or delivery service to One Truckee River/OTR Coordinator RFP, c/o NLT & KTMB, 2601 Plumas Street, Reno, NV 89509. For USPS delivery, please ensure delivery can be made prior to the deadline: OTR Coordinator RFP/A. Hoeft, Initiatives Coordinator/ Nevada Land Trust/PO Box 20288, Reno, NV 89515.

For information about the posting, please email or call Alex Hoeft, Initiatives Coordinator: a.hoeft@nevadalandtrust.org 775-851-5180.

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!