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Volunteers try to clean Storey County homeless camps

By Susan Voyles, Reno Gazzette-Journal
February 5, 2009

Where the Truckee River bike trail ends in east Sparks, homeless people follow a dirt road along the river, cross a railroad bridge and follow the historic Pioneer Trail to well-worn side trails to a dozen or so camps built high in the canyons in Storey County.

Cardwell, a retired Reno police lieutenant, Reno firefighter Pat Kleames and a few of their friends cleared five shopping carts and a pickup load of trash two weeks ago at the start of the trail.

But in a tour they led Wednesday, there were beer bottles, clothes and other trash scattered along the trail in the first canyon east of the Reno-Sparks sewer plant. A thick pile of tumbleweeds hid a tent at the mouth of the canyon. Up in that canyon, Jim, 56, a laid-off Reno casino cook, lives among rats at a makeshift home next to a sizeable garbage heap. Buckets of human excrement were 20 to 30 foot steps below the cabin in the steep ravine.

Inside, his shack was warm and tidy.

"I'm fixing it up as best I can," he said. "There's rats all over the place. I'm trying to get rid of them."

Jim said he's been watching the place for a week or so for a friend who had lived there a couple of years. If he has to move, he said he'd find other places along the Truckee River in Reno or Sparks. He doesn't like homeless shelters because he's afraid of getting sick.

Cardwell, a 35-year Reno police officer, said the outdoor camp was by far the worst he has seen.

"The trash is unbelievable," he said. Cardwell has asked Storey County officials to close the camps and is offering to lead a group of volunteers to clean up the mess.

"My sons came out here to hike these canyons," Kleames said. "No kids should be out here now."

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1,400 Acres in Northern Sierra Protected

1,400 Acres in Northern Sierra Protected, Published by YubaNet on Feb 3, 2009
By: Trust for Public Land

TRUCKEE, Calif. Feb. 2, 2009 - Three properties totaling almost 2,000 acres are being permanently protected in the northern Sierra Nevada and in Yuba County, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) and Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT) announced today.

The properties were purchased from Siller Brothers, Inc, a Marysville-based family company on Dec. 30. Money to finance the purchases came from a variety of state funds and private partners, TPL and TLDT announced. Two of the properties are near the proposed Castle Peak Wilderness Area north of Donner Summit, and the third is next to the Daugherty Hills Wildlife Area in the Collins Lake Recreation Area of Yuba County. The two mountain properties are also high priorities for the Northern Sierra Partnership, formed in 2007 by TPL, TDLT, the Feather River Land Trust, Sierra Business Council and The Nature Conservancy to insure the environmental and economic sustainability of the northern Sierra.

David Sutton, director of TPL's Northern California program, said, "we are very pleased to have the funding support of California public agencies and the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation to protect these wonderful places. The protection of these properties from possible second-home development is a big step toward protecting the integrity of the proposed Castle Peak Wilderness Area. It's also a major accomplishment for the Northern Sierra Partnership."

"The properties are off the charts in terms of their natural resources and truly iconic landscapes of the Northern Sierra. Any lover of the Sierra should be very pleased that they are now and forever protected," said Perry Norris, Executive Director of TDLT.

Perazzo Meadows, the largest property at 982 acres, is located northwest of Truckee and includes more than 2.5 miles of the Little Truckee River, a primary tributary in the Truckee River watershed and an important source of drinking water for the residents of Nevada. For the time being, the property will be owned by TDLT while trails and a parking area are constructed and restoration work is completed along the Little Truckee River. TDLT then plans to transfer ownership to the Tahoe National Forest.

TPL and TLDT also acquired a 400-acre property northwest of Castle Peak at the edge of Paradise Valley. The Pacific Crest Trail runs over a corner of the property, which was donated to the Tahoe National Forest, which owns land surrounding the parcel.

"We are very excited with the addition of these lands to the Tahoe National Forest. They are rich in wildlife and watershed values. Perazzo is an incredible high elevation meadow ecosystem and we hope to start a stream channel restoration project there this summer, which will encompass the new property in future years. Paradise Valley property is important from a wildlife connectivity standpoint involving a variety of species," stated Tom Quinn, Tahoe National Forest Supervisor.

For entire article, please visit website below.

Public policies affecting water use in Nevada

January 30, 2009

By Loretta Singletary, Extension Educator, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension


Nevada is the seventh largest state in size with more than 110,000 square miles of land area. Nevada is also the driest state in the nation. The fastest growing area of the state, southern Nevada, only gets 4 inches average annual precipitation. Over 68 percent of Nevada's population lives in Clark County in southern Nevada. Approximately 20 percent of the state's population resides in northern Nevada in the communities of Reno, Carson City and Lake Tahoe. To complicate these demographics further, the vast majority of Nevada (87%) is controlled by the federal government.

Water scarcity is one of the most pressing issues facing the American West. Agriculture, cities, towns and industry are the primary water users. There are more conflicts over water than ever before in the American West. More frequently, these conflicts involve litigation.

There are several competing uses for water in Nevada. These include the use of water to:

Irrigate crops, including hay, onions, garlic, melons, potatoes, grapes and other vegetables.
Water livestock, including horses, dairy cattle, beef cattle and sheep.
Sustain habitat to support wildlife including fish, birds, deer, wild horses, and other wildlife.
Supply water recreation opportunities such as fishing, swimming and boating.
Supply other recreation including parks and golf courses.

This fact sheet describes demographic trends in Nevada in light of its history as a leader in water resource development in the western U.S. Population growth and changing attitudes towards water resources in addition to shifts in federal policy create an unprecedented period of conflict and change surrounding water. This is particularly the case for rural Nevadans including farmers and ranchers.

Population Growth and Changing Attitudes Towards Water Resources

Population in the U.S. has increased dramatically since its settlement 400 years ago. The current U.S. population is estimated at 287 million and is expected to increase to 414 million by 2050 (2002).

Nevada is the fastest growing state in the U.S. with a population of nearly 2 million. The majority of Nevadans live in urban areas including Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City. Rural areas located near these urban centers are growing rapidly, providing open space needed for residential, industrial and commercial development that accompanies rapid population growth.

The availability of water resources to meet the demands of increasing population is a question in the minds of many Nevadans, both natives and newcomers. Nevada remains the driest state in the U.S. and the majority of its water resources are legally bound to its traditional use on agricultural lands.

The agriculture sector accounts for about 78 percent of water use statewide in Nevada. And, statewide, commerce and domestic uses claim 13 percent, 7 percent is used for mining, 1 percent for producing power and less than 1 percent for industry. These figures contrast dramatically with southern Nevada, however, where residential uses account for approximately 60 percent, with 8 percent for irrigation of golf courses, schools, parks and other large green areas, 8 percent for hotels and 10 percent for commerce and fire protection.

Current economic growth in Nevada, however, does not rely on agriculture, in spite of the fact that agriculture remains vital to the economic health of its rural communities. And, plentiful water supplies are needed to support continued population and economic growth. Farmers and ranchers in particular are concerned that water resources may be arbitrarily reallocated if the pressure to support growth in urban areas surpasses the state's history of supporting irrigated agriculture.

...for more information and entire article, please visit website below.

Sierra hikers dispute federal report about declining use of U.S. forests

By Jeff DeLong • jdelong@rgj.com • December 15, 2008

It's what the Incline Village woman loves to do, and she regularly encounters many others -- young and old alike -- who share her outdoor passion. That's why Devine was surprised to learn about a new government report suggesting fewer people are using national forest land these days.

"I talk to people who are hiking and using the trails all the time," said Devine, 46. "That does surprise me." The visitor use national summary report, recently released by the U.S. Forest Service, shows that visits to the country's national forests declined from 204.8 million in 2004 to 178.6 million in 2007, a drop of about 13 percent and a continuation of a trend first noticed several years ago.

In the Forest Service's Region 4, which includes Nevada, Utah and southern Idaho, the report showed a 9 percent decline. Visitors to Nevada's Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which at 6.3 million acres is the largest national forest in the lower 48 states, also apparently dropped, said Forest Supervisor Ed Monnig.

In 2004, an estimated 2.9 million people visited the forest but the number dropped to 1.9 million in 2007, a decrease of nearly 35 percent.

The government's methods of gauging visitation have varied since efforts commenced in 2000 and the task is a difficult one, Monnig said. "We don't have turnstiles; we don't take tickets," Monnig said. "It's a challenge to determine how many people really use the national forest."

Tahoe National Forest use plan available for comment

Many off-highway vehicle users feel the public comment period for Tahoe National Forest is is too short
By Laura Brown, Tahoe Sun News Service

Two months is too little time to respond to a complicated draft environmental plan for off-road vehicle use on the Tahoe National Forest, area county supervisors, motorcycle and environmental groups said. About 10 people from different groups relayed their concerns earlier this week about the plan at a county supervisors’ meeting.

Released late September, people have until Nov. 26 to review and provide input on the voluminous document numbering more than a 1,000 pages and weighing almost 12 pounds.

“This is an unreasonable amount of information for people to digest and comment on in a short period of time,” said Kyra, a member of the Nevada County Woods Riders. “We need more time.” Disillusioned off-road vehicle users contend the plan omits significant trails used by locals and doesn’t take into account the economic contributions the group provides to the county’s restaurants, motels and gas stations.

Environmental groups argue additional trails should not be added when the existing ones are poorly managed and impacts to water quality, wildlife and quiet recreationists are not being thoroughly enough addressed. So far, about 3,000 letters have been submitted via e-mail, with a majority coming as form letters from the San Francisco-based Wilderness Society, said Tahoe National Forest spokeswoman Ann Westling.

“There’s interest nationally, because a lot of people who don’t live in California visit the Sierra Nevada,” said Stan Van Velsor, a spokesman for The Wilderness Society, which is keeping a close tabs on eight national forests in the state that will release similar documents in coming months. The Tahoe National Forest is the second after Eldorado to release its draft environmental plan.

“That’s why we’re concerned this one be done right,” because it could become a templet for the others, Van Velsor said. Forest service officials are unlikely to grant an extension to the public comment period, because they must meet a deadline for a final plan in March, Westling said.

“It would have to be approved by the regional forester (in Vallejo). Due to the short time periods we’re under, that would be unlikely,” she said.

Long process
In the works for five years, the off highway vehicle route designation process started to address the increasing number of people who drive motorcycles, quads and vehicles criss-crossing the back country.

Interest in the route designation process has been strong, with more than 200 people attending an informational workshop in Nevada City last month.

For entire article, please visit website below.

Tahoe Keys a center for recreation — and controversy

Adam Jensen, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Few construction projects in the Lake Tahoe Basin highlight the often-conflicting interests of development and environmental protection quite like the Tahoe Keys. Built in the late 1950s and early ’60s, the 740-acre development at the mouth of the Upper Truckee River has alternately been seen as an appealing place to live and an environmental disaster.

An estimated 5 million cubic yards of material were dredged from the marsh at the mouth of the river to create the fingers of land interlaced with 11 miles of backyard waterways that make up the Keys. The effort destroyed much of the river’s marsh and removed a major filtration system from Lake Tahoe’s largest tributary, identified by the Lahontan Water Board as a major source of fine sediment that reduces the clarity of the lake.

The draw of the development is undeniable, and marketing for the neighborhood has changed little over the past four decades.

“Most of the 1,539 members who own homes, townhouses or vacant lots have a private boat dock and are located on numerous lagoons, canals or the Tahoe Keys Marina with its boat-launching ramps,” according to the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association. “Waterfront living provides direct access to Lake Tahoe and its many watersports. At Tahoe Keys, we enjoy breathtaking views of the lake and mountains, and enjoy amenities like tennis, indoor and outdoor pools, spa and more.”

While the attraction of living in the Keys has remained the same, the development more recently has faced a new set of environmental issues, including the fight against the introduction of aquatic invasive species into Lake Tahoe.

Eurasian watermilfoil was discovered in the Keys in the 1980s and, despite efforts to remove it, has spread to numerous locations around the lake. Researchers also have indicated the Keys area is the likely introduction point for a growing population of warmwater fish species around the lake.

For entire article, please visit website below.

Washoe plans to open trailhead on Canepa Ranch

By Jeff DeLong, Reno Gazette Journal  jdelong@rgj.com • July 21, 2008
A watchful hawk perched on a nearby fence post. Up a sun-splashed hillside, a pair of mule deer bucks bounded through the brush, wary of some nearby human observers.  It's a scene of a type that plays out day after day at this scenic spot of land west of Reno, and one that more people might soon enjoy under recreation plans being developed by Washoe County and the U.S. Forest Service.

"It's a beautiful piece of land," said Doug Doolittle, who directs the county Department of Regional Parks and Open Space. "And it's going to be a wonderful property."  In 2002, Washoe County used $2.1 million from a parks bond sale to acquire about 120 acres of the historic Canepa Ranch.  The purchase was seen at the time as the most expedient and sure way to ensure the ranch could become public property, protecting both access to the river and mountainous national forest land to the south.
On July 8, Washoe County commissioners agreed to sell most of the ranch to the Forest Service for about $1.5 million. That money will go back to the county for future land purchases along the river.

South Lake Tahoe airport renovation returns natural state

By KATHRYN REED • Special to the Reno Gazette-Journal • July 13, 2008

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — A $7 million renovation scheduled to begin next month will restore land along the South Lake Tahoe airport runway to a stream environmental zone and use porous asphalt to reduce runoff.

Part of the project is the city’s restitution to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency for cutting 387 trees without a permit in 2006.  The airport will remain open during construction.
The runway along the Upper Truckee River will be narrowed by 50 feet to 100 feet wide, wuith the same 8,544-foot length.  The narrower runway can accommodate 737s but not 757s. However, neither aircraft is likely to return to the South Shore airport that lost commercial service years ago.
“I see the airport as a safety center and a place for alternative transportation to reduce the vehicle miles traveled in the basin,” airport director Rick Jenkins said. “It has a substantial economic impact to the community.”

Making moves on the Sierra checkerboard

Conservation groups and the Forest Service have been left with a land-ownership legacy left by the railroad
By Greyson Howard
Source: Sierra Sun
February 1, 2008

Draped like a net across the northern Sierra Nevada, a distinct pattern, imperceptible to the casual viewer, could play a vital role in the future of the Truckee-Tahoe area. Called the Sierra checkerboard, the pattern of land ownership divides every-other square mile into public and private ownership, hence the name.

Created more than a century ago to help the Transcontinental Railroad develop a route over the mountains, it now leaves the U.S. Forest Service and other government entities in a difficult place for land management and fire fighting.

“This is a really looming and daunting environmental threat,” said Perry Norris, executive director of the Truckee Donner Land Trust.

For entire article, please visit website.

City of Reno, Nevada - Watershed Mapserver


The City of Reno (and the Truckee Meadows Stormwater Committee) has provided watershed assessments as photo-documented field surveys, for the entire Truckee Meadows watershed. These are provided in an interactive mapserver, where you can click on either your region or creek of choice, in the Truckee Meadows. There are photos, descriptions of the creek reach conditions, and recommendations for restoration and watershed protection for each creek posted. Restoration will be an important component of integrated watershed management as our resources come under greater pressure through utilization, and tools are needed to evaluate priority sites to reduce loads of contaminants in the river.

Creeks and their information can be accessed by turning on navigation tools, once within the server. Watershed assessment information may be accessed two ways: through the name of the creek (top of site, choose "select creek") or by geographical area (top of site, choose "select region"). Within each creek page are photos, and by rolling over the blue buttons indicating sites of assessments, you'll uncover textual descriptions of the reaches, and tips for specific ways to restore that creek or protect waterways throughout our watershed.


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