I went down to the river for a walk this morning, and saw an old futon out in the channel. That’s an unusual species for this ecosystem, I thought. Further downstream, close to the Sierra Street bridge, I came across a man who was hoisting pieces of driftwood out of the river channel with a big red hook. That’s an unusual sport, I thought.
I introduced myself to the man, whose name was Steve Pacheco, and asked him what he was fishing for. “I’m doing a little river cleanup”, said Pacheco, who is a Park Maintenance Worker for the City of Reno. He uses a red grappling hook tied to a long piece of rope to grab whatever he can reach from the river channel below.
“I try to get out whatever I can snag; I can’t get everything though,” said Pacheco. “I’ve taken out bikes, signs, garbage cans…and a lot of baby diapers.” One time, he found three salmon carcasses, which someone apparently did not want for dinner. Another time he found two dead raccoons.
Pacheco has worked for the City for 24 years, and comes out about twice per month to pick up trash and debris from along the edge of the river. He covers the area between Wingfield Park and the skating rink. “I like working here,” he said. “The only thing I don’t like is the messes people leave.”
I watched as Pacheco tossed his hook over the concrete wall outside of the Century Riverside theater, landing it on the rocks at the edge of the riverbank below. He dragged the hook back toward himself, and after a few tries, hoisted up another big piece of driftwood.
Steve Pacheco, fishing for debris. March 5, 2015.
Pacheco pulls up a piece of driftwood. March 5, 2015.
Pacheco says he finds a lot more trash during the summer, when there are a lot of people out and about. “A lot of people are pretty clean, but a lot of people don’t care,” he said. I told him about the futon that I saw upstream, and he chuckled. “That’s outside of my area,” said Pacheco. “That’ll be hard to get out. They’ll have to pull it up and let it drain for a while.”
Walking back back to my car, I notice trash in all sorts of hard-to-reach places. High in a tree over the river, a Red-tailed hawk perches near a white plastic bag. Along the edge of the channel below the walkway, I count numerous bags and bottles. And along the riverside trail, I see trash cans, everywhere. As the weather warms up and we head for the river, let’s keep our trash out of the Truckee!
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