Sparks Marina: A Glo-up Tale for the Ages

Sparks Marina: A Glo-up Tale for the Ages

River History, Truckee River Watershed
From rock quarry to Toxic Superfund site to ideal work-play-live bubble, the Sparks Marina has seen it all. Photo courtesy Flickr user Janusz Sobolewski Sparks Marina is such a delightful destination today, it's hard to believe it wasn't always so picturesque. Actually, forget picturesque; once upon a time, Sparks Marina was a 100-foot-deep quarry pit known as Helms Pit. (See a picture of the pit here.) From 1968 until 1987, Helms Pit provided rock for road and construction projects in the area. In the final functioning year, however, City of Sparks officials found petroleum products seeping through the southwest walls of the pit. It turned out there'd been a spill at the fuel-tank farm one mile away and its contamination had spread. Thus, the pit was dubbed a Toxic Superfund site (meaning the hazardous materials needed a long-term cleanup response) and a large cleanup was initiated. Finally,…
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New Year, New Me, No More Plastic

New Year, New Me, No More Plastic

Efforts, Truckee River Watershed
Look around you.... There are probably numerous plastic objects surrounding you right now. Since its invention in the late 19th century, plastics have only become more and more prolific in our lives. Furniture, technology, packaging, containers, many of our gadgets and gizmos -- so many of them are made of this infamous synthetic material. Plastic: what is it exactly? Plastics are a Synthetic Material: fibers made from synthesized polymers of small molecules. Basically, this means plastics are a man-made material that is created in labs. Specifically, plastic is created using carbon found in oil. Scientists can combine many different monomers from oil and other naturally occurring materials to create plastic polymers. This is why we see so many different types of plastic. Why is everyone telling me to reduce my plastic…
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A Guide to Making Your Cleaning Greener, Cheaper, and More River Friendly

A Guide to Making Your Cleaning Greener, Cheaper, and More River Friendly

Efforts, Truckee River Watershed
If you’re having trouble connecting the Truckee River and your at-home cleaning tendencies, you’re not the first and you’re not alone. In this post, we’ll break it down for you. First: How do my cleaning supplies even enter the river? This is best explained with an example. Let’s say you’re cleaning your toilet or rinsing out a sponge, all of that watery cleaning residue is going to drain down your sink into the sewers, and then head to a wastewater treatment plant. This is where all of the water is cleaned and disinfected before being reintroduced to the Truckee River. However, as advanced as wastewater treatment has become, many chemicals remain challenging to remove entirely and some will still end up in our waterways. This includes both nitrogen and phosphorus.…
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All About Pyramid Lake

All About Pyramid Lake

River History, Truckee River Watershed
Northern Nevada is known for many things: the nice people; its proximity to Lake Tahoe; the small-town feel in a growing city. The Truckee River flowing through Reno and Sparks is often a pleasant surprise to visitors (and some residents!). Even more unknown than the river, however, is what lies at its end: Pyramid Lake. [caption id="attachment_3925" align="alignleft" width="500"] Photo courtesy Flickr user Ron Reiring. Pyramid Lake in 2008 looking southeast.[/caption] The Truckee River flows out of Lake Tahoe and, after 121 miles of mountains, Reno/Sparks, and the desert, enters Pyramid Lake at its southern end. Pyramid Lake sits entirely within the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Reservation, and is one of the tribe's most valuable assets. Pyramid Lake was mapped and named by the same fellow who first mapped the Truckee…
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Truckee River Watershed: Mogul Creek

Truckee River Watershed: Mogul Creek

One River, Truckee River Watershed
Similar to Chalk Creek, Mogul Creek is a minor tributary flowing down from Peavine Mountain into the Truckee River. Mogul Creek flows south through the Peavine foothills between residential developments, past Somersett Park - East, around a few golf holes of the Somersett Country Club, and down through a small valley before reaching more houses, slipping under I-80 and plopping into the Truckee River. [gallery grids="News" image_size="large" ids="3056,3057,3058"] Mogul Creek's lower reach is in a concrete-lined channel just west of River Christian Center. The creek enters the Truckee River on private property. As stated in our Chalk Creek post, the Mogul and Chalk creeks sit on the Hunter Creek Sandstone Formation -- a geologic formation containing high amounts of salts in the soil. Before major population growth in the area,…
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Truckee River Watershed: Alum Creek

Truckee River Watershed: Alum Creek

One River, Truckee River Watershed
Alum Creek is an extremely pretty creek to follow if you're in the mood for a walk. The creek flows through west Reno through the Caughlin Ranch area and enters the Truckee River just west of Crissie Caughlin Park. A footpath can be found next to a majority of the creek, and thanks to Steamboat Ditch flows diverting into Alum Creek at five different points, the creek flows almost year-round. The greenbelt on Caughlin Parkway just west of the Plumb/McCarran intersection has multiple ponds to wander around. [caption id="attachment_3027" align="aligncenter" width="525"] Icy pond within the greenbelt off Caughlin Parkway.[/caption] As the City of Reno states it in a Truckee River Watershed guide, there are opportunities for revegetation along Alum Creek, particularly right before entering the Truckee River (pictured below). [caption…
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Truckee River Watershed: North Evans Creek

Truckee River Watershed: North Evans Creek

One River, Truckee River Watershed
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…
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Truckee River Watershed: Chalk Creek

Truckee River Watershed: Chalk Creek

One River, Truckee River Watershed
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. [caption id="attachment_2883" align="aligncenter" width="525"] 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.[/caption] 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…
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Truckee River Watershed: Dog Creek and Sunrise Creek

Truckee River Watershed: Dog Creek and Sunrise Creek

One River, Truckee River Watershed
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. [caption id="attachment_2831" align="aligncenter" width="525"] Dog Creek emptying into the Truckee River. Photo taken from the Crystal Park Bridge in Verdi.[/caption] 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…
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Truckee River Watershed: Dry Creek

Truckee River Watershed: Dry Creek

One River, Truckee River Watershed
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. [gallery grids="News" image_size="large" ids="2812,2810,2809"] (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,…
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