Railroad snowshed graffiti removed
Special to the Sierra Sun
Litter and graffiti are ongoing problems in the local area. Litter is more pervasive, graffiti grows more slowly; but both can be controlled given proper attention. An early summer explosion in graffiti on the railroad snowsheds at Donner Summit was extensive; it could be seen from I-80, Donner Pass Road, and parts of Truckee. Its suddenness shocked locals into action because of both its immediate impact and the fear that it would migrate to nearby natural and historic surfaces.
An earlier graffiti removal project by Sugar Bowl Academy was partially successful; but it led to threats against both the school and students, who quickly removed Facebook pages documenting their efforts.
The Donner Summit Association, a volunteer group dedicated to revitalizing the Summit area, organized a larger campaign, supported by the U.S. Forest Service; the North Tahoe Climbers Coalition; the Sugar Bowl, Boreal, and Soda Springs ski areas; other organizations; and individual volunteers from across the North Tahoe-Truckee region. Access was provided by Union Pacific Railroad, which owns the property, and the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.
Seventy volunteers signed up for three to four hour shifts on three days in early September. Sugar Bowl provided staff time, a truck-mounted pressure washer, and $1,000 in financial assistance, which was matched by a $1,000 contribution from the Truckee Donner Land Trust. Individuals gave another $1,500. Mountain Hardware and Sports donated $250 worth of supplies, Kelly-Moore provided 180 gallons of light brown paint at a discount, and The Real Graphic Source contributed new signs. Equipped with painting equipment and solvent, the volunteers removed most of the graffiti visible from the highways in the first round; graffiti not visible from a distance has not been touched.
Taggers returned almost immediately; but a second wave of two dozen volunteers on Sept. 24 repainted the freshly marked surfaces and extended coverage eastward to less accessible panels that had not been cleaned earlier in the month.
Taggers have threatened to return again, but so has DSA. Small-scale touch-up operations continue. A ‘trail host’ is parked at the entrance to Tunnel 6 (the longest tunnel), and the Nevada County Sheriff’s office is providing enforcement. Video cameras are being installed and signs have been placed at likely access points warning of fines and imprisonment under both California Penal Code 594 and Forest Service Code CFR 261.9. Penalties may also be imposed for trespassing and for damage to historic and archeological artifacts, which are plentiful in the area. Anyone witnessing graffiti activity should contact the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office at 530-265-7880.
Dick Simpson is Secretary of the Donner Summit Association.
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