About the Truckee River:

The Truckee River begins at the outflow of Lake Tahoe, in Tahoe City, CA, and ends approximately 121 miles downstream in beautiful Pyramid Lake, NV.  Along its course, the river descends 2,240 feet in elevation, dropping from the pine forests of the Sierra Nevada Mountains into the arid shrublands of the Great Basin.  The river passes through the communities of Truckee, Reno, Sparks, Wadsworth, Nixon and others, and provides 85 percent of the municipal water supply for residents of Reno/Sparks and the Truckee Meadows region.  It also provides important habitat for many species of native wildlife, including the Cui-ui, an endangered species of fish found nowhere else in the world, and the threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout.

The Truckee River near Floriston, Nov 2014

The Truckee River near Floriston, Nov 2014.  Photo: Kelsey McCutcheon

About this Project:

Truckee River Guide is an interactive field guide and participatory mapping project.  The goals of this project are: 1) to help local people learn about the species that live in and along the Truckee River; and, 2) to create a collaborative, community-produced public record of wildlife and plant distribution along the Truckee River as it exists today.  This project launched in January 2015.

Why does this matter?

Climate change is expected to influence environmental conditions in the western United States in uncertain ways, but over the last 100 years, researchers from the University of California, Davis have observed a 4.2ºF increase in daily minimum air temperature in the Lake Tahoe Basin, and a 1.7ºF increase in daily maximum air temperature (TERC, 2013). As this trend continues into the future, researchers expect to see a higher percentage of precipitation falling as rain (less snow), and earlier spring runoff (Coats et al., 2013).  How might changes in air temperature, precipitation and timing of spring runoff affect the presence, distribution and survival of wildlife living along the Truckee River? Will plants and animals be able to adapt to the predicted changes in their environment? Will species die off, redistribute, or migrate elsewhere? In order to answer these questions and to observe changes over time, it is important to keep a record of the way things are now, and this is something that we can all help with.

About the author:

Contact: Kelsey McCutcheon Fitzgerald
Email: kelseymccutcheon@gmail.com
Twitter: @kelsmcfitz

My name is Kelsey Fitzgerald, and I am a recent graduate of the Reynolds School of Journalism at University of Nevada, Reno.  I have an undergraduate degree in biology, and worked on conservation projects in ten other states before finding my way to Reno and the Truckee River.  Here, working on a restoration project on the Lower Truckee, I began learning some of the stories of the history, ecology, people and species of this river, and began dreaming of a guidebook.  In journalism school, the idea evolved into something that I think is even better — a collaborative public resource that anyone can contribute to. Through this project, I hope to pull some of the Truckee’s great stories out of government documents and scientific papers and find better ways to share them with the people that live here, and I also hope to learn from all who find this site and share what they know and see. Thanks to all who have helped and contributed!

In the news: Online guide aims to demystify the Truckee River, By Benjamin Spillman. Reno Gazette Journal, February 2, 2015.

Kelsey McCutcheon Fitzgerald