2018 Truckee River Source To Sea
Educational Paddling Adventure
Summary of the 2018 Truckee River StS Project
The 2018 Truckee River Source to Sea Educational Paddling Adventure was the second year of a unique adventure-based watershed education program. Over the 2017/2018 school year, the 2017 Student Ambassador team gave presentations to their peers at their respective schools, sharing their experience and knowledge gained from exploring the Truckee River watershed the previous summer. A total of 1,100 students were reached at 7 middle schools throughout the watershed (South Tahoe Middle School, North Tahoe Middle School, Creekside Charter School, Forest Charter School, Sierra Expeditionary Learning School, Alder Creek Middle School, and Archie Clayton Middle School).
During the spring of 2018, Rivers For Change led three on-shore learning events with the South Tahoe Middle School, Sierra Expeditionary Learning School, and North Tahoe Middle School. Approximately 115 students participated in those learning events, which included hands-on learning exercises and presentations related to water based recreation safety, stream channel restoration, water supply allocations, water use management and water quality.
The 2018 Truckee River StS project then culminated in a 6-day exploration of the Truckee river watershed with a 14-member Student Ambassador team, representing 6 different middle schools. Four members of this year’s team were returnees from last year and performed as mentors to the ten new student ambassadors.
During two days of the exploration the 14-member student team also participated in hands-on stewardship consisting of a beach clean-up on Lake Tahoe on Day 2 (coordinated by the League to Save Lake Tahoe), as well as a river cleanup on the Truckee River below Reno on Day 5.
Both clean up days had a powerful impact on the team. During the first clean-up day along a ½ mile stretch of Lake Tahoe shoreline, the trash collected consisted mostly of many small pieces of plastic and over 170 cigarette butts. The lesson learned on this day was about the pervasive nature of plastic, its longevity in the environment, and the harm it presents to the environment. The team also spent time with an AmeriCorps volunteer from the Tahoe Environmental Research Center learning about efforts to restore and monitor Lake Tahoe clarity.
On Day 5, we learned about the nature of trash on the river created by large urban areas, including homeless encampments. Two rafts and five inflatable kayak/paddle cats were filled to capacity about 2/3 of the way through a 7-mile stretch of river. Six adult volunteers joined 13 members of the student team during this full day of trash cleanup. Trash included rubber tires, an industrial size recycling trash can (which we used to then store smaller garbage), many plastic bag “blossoms”, cans/bottles, broken pieces of Styrofoam, broken pieces of plastic, and old clothes. The entire team was astounded by the sheer magnitude and wide variety of trash trapped in the river banks and floodplain. At the end of the day, the team met with an AmeriCorps volunteer working with ONE Truckee River to learn about larger community efforts in Reno to perform ongoing river clean-ups, education, and address the problem of homeless encampments along the river.
The Truckee STS project relied heavily on local river & watershed stewardship partners to provide the learning component of our program. This year’s partners included the USFS-Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, the Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC), Balance Hydrologics, the Nevada Division of Wildlife, ONE Truckee River, The League to Save Lake Tahoe, The Nature Conservancy of Nevada, and the North Tahoe Fire District. Many of the presenters during this year were AmeriCorps Intern’s working for these organizations.
The Truckee River STS project benefitted heavily from financial and in-kind support from sponsors. This year’s sponsors included IRIE River Rafting, Truckee Whitewater Tours, Blue Water Media, Balance Hydrologics, Waterman’s Landing, Remick & Associates Master Builders, Wagner & Bonsignore Civil Engineers.
Check out some video from the 2018 adventure