The fifth annual Truckee River Day is Oct. 15 |

The fifth annual Truckee River Day is Oct. 15

At Deep Creek, off of Highway 89 South, stands an aspen tree grove in serious decline.

Streambeds in Truckee’s Coldstream Canyon are exposed to severe erosion. What was once a healthy stream, loaded with fish and aquatic insects, is now clogged with sediment and debris.

These areas and many more need protection, regeneration and stabilization and Truckee River Day 2000 gives Truckee-North Tahoe residents a chance to get dirty and help restore and plan the health of our watershed.

More than just river clean-up, River Day projects include planting for streamside stabilization and erosion control, road decommissioning, trail building and construction of habitat for birds and small animals.

Other projects offered this year include a Bear Project in Northstar and lodgepole thinning and re-vegetating an old road near Trout Creek in Tahoe Donner.

The Northstar Homeowner’s Association and the BEAR League are participating in Truckee River Day this year by organizing a project to keep bears away from their subdivision. The project will include planting a variety of plants that grow berries that bears like to eat. More than 200 fruit plants will be planted on the Saturday before Truckee River Day.

“The idea is trying to attract them away from the subdivision,” said Sarah Trebilcock of the Truckee River Habitat Restoration Group, who helped organize Truckee River Day’s various projects.

The Tahoe Donner Homeowners Association and forester Bill Houdyshell have organized two watershed projects. Volunteers can help make an old road near Trout Creek into a trail by planting native plants in the road.

“Some people can work in their own neighborhoods and we’re trying to encourage that more,” Trebilcock said.

And these are just a few of the projects volunteers can be involved in at this year’s event. Volunteers can match their interests and skills to a wide range of projects.

When Trebilcock, Alice Berg and John Plehn conceived of the idea of Truckee River Day five years ago, they knew it would be a good way to get community members interested with the health of their local watershed and to provide hands-on involvement in river restoration.

But they were shocked and more than thrilled when more than 400 volunteers showed up the first year with buckets and tools, ready to help. It was obvious people in the Truckee-North Tahoe area cared about their river.

The effort has grown into a community-wide celebration in which approximately 800 people participate.

“Every year it seems to grow,” Trebilcock said. “It says a lot about this community. It’s hard to say exactly why people get involved … Most people who have moved here have a sense of ownership of the area. Also, the school district has done a lot to talk about the conservation of our natural resources and kids want to be involved.”

People even travel from out of town to participate – last year more than 150 people came from outside the Truckee-Tahoe region and Trebilcock said it looks like more are coming this year.

Truckee River Day is organized annually by the Truckee River Habitat Restoration Group.

The highlight of the day, of course, is watching several hundred children excitedly release Cutthroat Trout into the river.

Specialists in the areas of wildlife, plant ecology, fishing, and geology will be on hand to lead groups in each project.

One of the larger River Day projects last year was the Our Truckee River Legacy Trail project. In a collaborative effort by the Truckee Rotary, the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District, and the Truckee River Habitat Restoration Group, more than 150 volunteers planted more than 4,000 plants to stabilize the trail. Walk along the trail today and you’ll see healthy roses, alders and willows growing all along the banks, helping to keep erosion in check.

On the Little Truckee River, nearly 200 volunteers built a trail to focus foot traffic away from wetlands and damaged areas near the river. They also planted willow stakes and native plants to regenerate areas lost during the 1997 flood.

U.S. Forest Service Truckee Ranger Joanne Roubique said the USFS will once again be actively involved in Truckee River Day projects on national forest service lands this year.

“Volunteers are coming back, but when they come back they seem to want some new and different experiences,” Roubique said.

She gave the example of one 12-year-old volunteer who has been participated in Truckee River Day every year. He has participated in various less-strenuous projects over the years.

“This year, he’s 12 and he said he wants a project to use his physical strength,” she said. “Now he wants something he can really dig in to and that’s neat. This year there are some real physical projects, so we are looking for some teenagers and young adults to come and help us with those.”

Because so many volunteers have come back every year, event organizers believe they are reaching their educational objective.

“The volunteers seem to be growing up with us,” Roubique said. “They’re getting more knowledgable about restoration and what needs to be done for our watershed and that is exciting to see.”

Education displays will be abundant at the Granite Flat Campground, where volunteers meet. New to this year’s event are a “Frog Video” display, an interactive watershed model displayed by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, displays on native plants and noxious weeds, a table for kids to create posters or murals following the projects, a fly tying demo and much more.

“Each year there seems to be more and more interest from community organizations to be involved in Truckee River Day,” said Robie Wilson, a local landscape architect and chair of the Truckee River Day Committee. “It’s to give more information about the river and how we impact it in our daily lives. Different organizations are starting to really look at this as a great venue for getting information out.”

5th Annual Truckee Day

When: Sunday, Oct. 15

Where: Meet at Granite Flat Campground on Highway 89 South at 9 a.m.

Volunteers :

— All volunteers receive a free T-shirt if they register by Friday, Oct. 6

Registration forms are available through the Truckee River Habitat Restoration Group and at the Villager Nursery in Truckee or can be downloaded from

— Bring a clean pail for releasing fish; trash bags for clean-up; planting tools and a sharp knife; sturdy shoes; layered clothing and water bottles

Cost: No cost; the event is free

For more information, call 587-4509

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