The best part about this project is that it provides me with unlimited opportunities (excuses?) to go walk near the river, which is one of my favorite things to do. This past Saturday, my husband and I took our dogs for a walk in Dorostkar Park, to see the river after the first bout of rain. Dorostkar Park, despite being hard to pronounce (Doro-st-kar, not Dork-o-star…), is a great Washoe County Park with paved trails for biking or running, and a dirt hiking path that follows close to the river with a few interpretive signs. Along the path, we saw a western terrestrial garter snake.
Interpretive sign on riverside trail in Dorostkar Park, Reno. Feb 2015.
Western terrestrial garter snake (Thamnophis elegans), Dorostkar Park, Reno. Feb 2015.
We received some much needed rain and snow in the mountains over the weekend, and the river was flowing much higher than it has in a while. How high? The United States Geological Survey measures the flow of the Truckee River at various points and reports the data online. If you’re ever wondering how much water is flowing down the river, you can look it up on USGS’s website.
For example, this gage in Farad measures the amount of water coming over the California/Nevada state line. River flow is measured as discharge: the volume of water flowing the river per unit time. In the United States, discharge is normally measured in units of cubic feet per second (cfs). As you can see from the graph of this weekend’s storm (below), the river peaked at over 2000 cfs, very early Monday morning. Average flow for this time of year is about 400 cfs, shown on the graph as the series of orange triangles.
The USGS stream gage in Farad shows the result of our weekend storm: The blue line marks river flow; orange triangles show average flow levels for this time of year.
Most of our native shrubs drop their leaves during winter, but many can still be identified by looking at the color, texture and structure of the twigs and branches. Along the riverside trail in Dorostokar Park, one of the easiest shrubs to identify this time of year is the Redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea). The twigs are long, smooth, and a vibrant, fire-engine red. Slightly darker and more purple-tinted in color are the branches of the Woods rose (Rosa woodsii), which grow in dense, thorny thickets alongside the trail.
Woods rose (Rosa woodsii) in Dorostkar Park, Reno. Feb 2015.
Redosier dogwood (Cornus sericea) in Dorostkar Park, Reno. Feb 2015.
Further down the trail, a bridge crosses over the Truckee River. From here, we could see a black-billed magpie in the willows, and a few mallards swimming close to the shoreline. It’s good to see the river with water in it again. Compare the two photos below: One from this Saturday, and one from September 18, 2014.
After the rain: The Truckee River from Dorostkar Park bridge, Feb 7, 2015.
Low flows: The Truckee River from Dorostkar Park bridge, Sept 18, 2014.