Matthew Clark/Nevada Sagebrush
Members of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers pose for a picture on Sunday, March 25. The group helped clean up the Truckee River in Reno after seasonal floods damaged the Lockwood Park area.

In the wake of last year’s historic flooding of the Truckee River, a group of community members and university students took to the riverbanks last week to clean and restore some of the damage wrought by mother nature.

The University of Nevada, Reno’s recently recognized collegiate chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers in collaboration with Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful and The Nature Conservancy hosted a river clean-up in Lockwood Park east of Reno on Sunday, March 25.

Over 30 volunteers came to assist in the conservation and beautification effort. The riverside park was damaged due to last year’s record snow fall and subsequent flooding and was in need of restoration. After a safety talk led by KTMB, the volunteers were split into two groups to help with restoration. One group was instructed to walk the trails and banks of the river to pick up any trash, and the other was tasked with renovating the patio and picnic area of the park.

“This is a resource I care about and am passionate about, and it’s good for the community,” president of UNR’s BHA Matthew Needs said. “Cleaning up the trash and getting the invasive weeds out is in a sense preserving the wild nature of the river.”

BHA is a national public land advocacy group that helps preserve natural landscapes and habitats so species of deer and fish can thrive, and was brought to the university by people passionate about the outdoors.

“We first formed the club because we had heard of a never-ending mantra of people coming to the college to do outdoors things, but they would get here and not have any idea how to go about pursuing those outdoor passions that they once enjoyed,” said Needs.

Travis Hawks, a fisheries biologist for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, said the Truckee River is now thriving.

“The river is in phenomenal shape this year mostly as a function of the winter we had last year,” said Hawks.

The urban stretch of the river is historically one of the most productive as far as the fishery is concerned but aesthetically the downtown stretch does struggle with trash and garbage.

With thousands of recreationists visiting the Truckee River each year, maintaining the serenity of the parks is important to the community’s economy and overall well-being. With over 400,000 people relying upon the river as their main water source, the river becomes that much more important to the surrounding communities, according to the United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation.

With this initial clean-up, the UNR BHA hopes to establish themselves within the graces of the community and work with other like-minded clubs and organizations in the future. Needs expressed interest in working with KMTB to adopt the Lockwood Park and regularly host clean-ups at the park.

Following the clean-up was a raffle and lunch at Great Basin Brewery. With donations from many conservation-minded companies, the UNR BHA was able to raise over $500 with the sale of raffle tickets to help the club grow its presence on campus and allow them to continue their efforts as advocates for public lands.

Matthew Clark can be reached at mpurdue@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.