Community River Trail: ‘It’s for everyone’
Taking advantage of the mild fall weather, Carson High School biology students dug post holes, cleared brush and replaced signs along an interpretive trail that had deteriorated over the years.
“It gets us out of class and into nature,” said Nicholas Lani, 15. “You get the best of both worlds. You get to learn and you get to help the environment at the same time.”
Biology teacher Julie Koop and her students forged the mile-long loop trail along the Carson River 10 years ago. The path is marked with numbered posts that coincide with information on brochures provided at the head of the trail.
Koop typically took her students down to the river to conduct scientific studies and maintain the trail three or four times a year.
However, budget cuts throughout the district have limited the number of field trips students can take. So, she only has scheduled one or two annual trips to the river in recent years.
We don’t really get to monitor it,” she said. “It’s been neglected.”
She didn’t realize the extent of the neglect until last month when she brought students down for their river study project.
The trail was overgrown, the main sign was broken and posts were missing or fallen along the trail.
“It was a disaster,” she said. “It wasn’t even usable.”
She contacted officials from Carson City Parks & Recreation who were willing to help. So were students and other members of the community.
They returned last week to install new posts, which were crafted by woodworking students at Eagle Valley Middle School.
Representatives from the Parks & Recreation then anchored the posts to the ground.
Sophomore Timmee Osorio said it was fitting that there was participation from the community.
“It’s not just for us,” he said. “It’s for everyone.”
Sign Pro is donating a protective plastic covering to protect the main sign at the trail head once it is installed. Brochures are available just below the sign.
Nathan King, 15, hopes the community takes advantage of the trail, which winds along the river lined with aspens.
“It’s Nevada,” he said. “You don’t get a lot in Nevada. You might as well come out and enjoy what there is.”
In addition to maintaining the trail, students also conduct a series of tests on the river itself, such as pH levels, temperature, flow rate and erosion.
“I wanted the kids to get outside and do more practical biology,” Koop said.
The water data is available online and used by other agencies, she said.
“It’s not just a biology project,” she said. “It benefits the whole community. We’re actually doing real science by collecting data for water quality.”
Their tests, she said, have determined that Carson River is clean.
“It’s a very healthy water environment here,” she said. “People don’t know that.”
She said a misconception persists that there are high levels of mercury in the river.
“There’s no mercury in the water right here,” she said. “There is some near Dayton, but it’s buried deep in the soil. A lot of people are scared of the river for no reason.”
The next planned field trip to the river will be April 22 for Earth Day. High school biology students will mentor Empire Elementary School fourth-graders for science experiments and other activities, including wrapping trees with chicken wire to protect them from beavers.
Koop said the recent work has sparked her motivation to rededicate time and energy to the program.
“It’s such a good program,” she said. “And it’s a good trail. We didn’t want to lose it.”