Reno turns back to the river

  • Downtown Reno: A river of gambling

    Kit Miller
  • Reno backs up to the Truckee River

    Peter Goin
 

Note: This article is a sidebar to one of this issue's feature stories, Learning from Las Vegas, in a special issue about the Great Basin.

"The Truckee River is the lifeblood of northern Nevada," says photographer Peter Goin, an art professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. "Yet look at how we treat it. We treat it like it's the sewer. We turn our backs on it. We design our buildings in such a way that it's behind us, not in front of us."

Goin usually lets his photographs speak for themselves. Last year, his contemporary photographic study of the Truckee River was acquired by the Library of Congress. The 150 photographs show a bleak, industrial river, its shores inhabited by homeless road warriors who mark their camps with skull and crossbones and messages such as "Keep out or go to jail wounded."

Goin's photographs stare at the river and city. Goin, a rebel against the Sierra Club school of "beautiful photographs" of landscapes worth saving, says he strives to make his photographs "as disturbing as the sites that have been disturbed." He wants viewers to pay attention to the "visual sensiblity of place" so that they can change it. "After all," he says, "we are a visual culture and we define our sense of place, in part, by how it looks."

"We turned our back to the river and our face to the street," says Susan Lynn, the chairwoman of a city redevelopment agency committee that is trying to resuscitate the Truckee River corridor which runs through the heart of downtown Reno. "But there's no reason they can't go together," she says. "We have a keen sense of having lost the community center as gaming has taken over downtown. We hope to integrate them, to pull locals closer to downtown and pull tourists from the gaming core to the river."

Lynn has organized a group of volunteers called the Truckee River Yacht Club to do cleanup projects and advocate for the river. The city has built a pedestrian river walk and bike path along the banks of the Truckee. The redevelopment agency has earmarked funds and tax breaks to reopen the abandoned Riverside Hotel and to bring small retail businesses and restaurants to the riverfront.

Last year, the Washoe County commission voted in favor of in-stream flow requirements to keep the river running all year. And one of the only bright spots in recent negotiations among warring parties on the river was an agreement by the county to store water upstream for release during periods of low flows to maintain water quality in the river. Restoration projects are taking place along the river from Lake Tahoe to Pyramid Lake.

These changes brighten even Peter Goin's grim outlook. "Can we change our vision of the Truckee River?" he asks. "I think it is changing right now."

High Country News Classifieds
  • MONTANA DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    YOUR POSITION WITH TNC The Director of Development (DoD) is responsible for directing all aspects of one or more development functions, which will secure significant...
  • DEVELOPMENT AND OPERATIONS COORDINATOR
    Development & Operations Coordinator Terms: 1.0 FTE (full-time), Salary DOE ($45,000 - $55,000) Benefits: Paid Time Off (12-24 days/year depending on tenure), Paid Holidays (10/year),...
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • CARBON RANCH PLANNER
    The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education,...
  • EDUCATION AND OUTREACH DIRECTOR
    Education and Outreach Program Director The Quivira Coalition (www.quiviracoaltion.org) is a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic,...
  • WESTERN DIVISION DIRECTOR OF FIELD PROGRAMS
    DEADLINE TO APPLY: October 29, 2021 LOCATION FLEXIBLE (WESTERN HUB CITY PREFERRED) Overview The Land Trust Alliance is the voice of the land trust community....
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...