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City of Reno Master Plan: Conservation Plan

Amended 2008
This plan is divided into nine sections: Introduction, Truckee River, Drainageways,
Wetlands/Stream Environments, Geology and Soils, Geologic Hazards, Air Quality,
Archaeological Resources and Historic Resources. The Introduction describes the
boundary, time frame, relationship to other plans and why this plan is needed.
Additional sections generally describe the conservation, development, and utilization of
the natural resources identified.
This Conservation Plan covers all of the City of Reno and its sphere of influence at the
time this plan was prepared.
This Conservation Plan horizon is to the year 2030.
This plan is an element of the City of Reno Master Plan prepared in accordance with
Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 278.150 through 278.170.
Policies of the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan are applicable regionwide. The City of
Reno Master Plan has three different levels of applicability; Citywide, Center and
Corridor, and Neighborhood. Citywide plans include this Conservation Plan and other
plans that apply to the entire City and its sphere of influence. Center and Corridor plans
are for the eight centers and five transit oriented development corridors in the City and
its sphere of influence. Neighborhood plans cover other areas, not in centers or
corridors, which have been designated as appropriate for more detailed planning.
Policies in center, corridor and neighborhood plans elaborate, with greater detail, upon
general policies contained in the citywide and regional plans. Center, corridor and
neighborhood plans must conform with and not be in conflict with policy direction of the
citywide plans and the Truckee Meadows Regional Plan. Similarly, Title 18 of the Reno
Municipal Code applies at the citywide, center and corridor, and neighborhood levels
and must be consistent with these plans.
The Nevada Revised Statutes enable a city to prepare a master plan that can cover all
or parts of a city and its sphere of influence. NRS 278.160 requires that city master
plans cover conservation, development, and utilization of natural resources.
Additionally, NRS 278.0284 provides for consistency between the master plan,
development code (Title 18 of the Reno Municipal Code) and capital improvements as
Conformity of local ordinances and regulations to master plan. Any action of a
local government relating to development, zoning, the subdivision of land or
capital improvements must conform to the master plan of the local government.
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In adopting any ordinance or regulation relating to development, zoning,
subdivision of land or capital improvements, the local government shall make a
specific finding that the ordinance conforms to the master plan.
"There is no price that can be placed on the quality of life or the character of our cities or
towns which is shaped by our natural systems, and often highlighted by our rivers".1
The Truckee River is one of only a few terminal rivers in the United States, beginning
and ending in a lake. The Truckee flows from Lake Tahoe, California to Pyramid Lake,
Nevada. Along the way, it flows through downtown Reno. Like many towns, Reno's
early development was located near the river, but not oriented towards the river in any
significant way. Downtown buildings turned their backs on the river. Over the years,
heavy industrial uses including open storage, metal works, and a refuse transfer station
have cropped up along the Truckee's bank. Many of these uses are no longer deemed
suitable for the sensitive river environment.
The Truckee River is a natural catalyst and theme for public and private
investment/reinvestment in parks, cultural facilities and downtown. Recognition of the
river as an asset will eventually lead to economic revitalization of downtown and the
area immediately to its east. While this investment in corridor properties needs to be
fostered, it must be done in a way which recognizes the river as an asset and a system.
The river system provides the community with recreation, fisheries, flood control, water
quality enhancement and abatement of pollution. Abatement of pollution incorporates
uptake of nutrients by riparian plants, stabilization of banks, and deposition of sediment.
These system attributes are provided to Reno's citizens free of charge. Replicating
these systems would be prohibitively expensive. Many public spaces are located along
the river corridor which need to be linked in some fashion to allow public access. Linking
the existing system of parks, paths, and improvements would enhance their value and
the benefit realized from the public investment. Lack of or impaired access is one of the
greatest land use issues faced by the Nevada Department of Wildlife along the Truckee
River. Before access can be fully developed, legitimate concerns of private property
owners regarding trespass and privacy must be addressed.
A significant issue concerning these public spaces is their treatment by adjoining
property owners. Where the City has recently acquired public land along the river,
and/or not yet improved it, some adjoining property owners take it upon themselves to
"improve" the public land. Residents have planted grass, removed riparian vegetation
which blocked their view, and laid gravel paths between their gates and the river's edge.
All of these actions constitute trespassing under the law. However, if an adjoining
property owner wishes to plant vegetation to stabilize the bank, improve shade or

Bickford, Dymon. An Atlas of Massachusetts River Systems, Environmental Designs for the
Future. (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1990), 31.
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City of Reno Master Plan October 22, 2008
habitat for birds for example, the City should encourage it. The City must clearly
delineate a process whereby individuals could make select improvements that will not
impair use of the property by the public.
The Truckee River supports populations of Brown, Brook and Rainbow Trout, Mountain
Whitefish and the threatened Lahontan Cutthroat Trout and endangered Cui ui.
Lahontan Cutthroat Trout is the only native trout in the river, the other trout species
having been introduced before the turn of the century. Introduced trout species have
filled the habitat niche previously occupied by the Lahontan Cutthroat, contributing to its
From the town of Truckee, California to the Mayberry Bridge on the west side of town,
the Truckee River is a trophy fishery. The Truckee River is a Class I stream under State
guidelines, and the number 2 fishery in all of Nevada. Key to the survival of the fishery
A. Maintenance of riparian vegetation (for food, cover, shading, and bank
B. Maintenance of riffles and gravel bars for cover and spawning;
C. Limitation of channelization or straightening of streams, injudicious
removal of snags, overhangs, undercut banks and boulders;
D. Controlled introduction of silts introduced into the river which can suffocate
fish, impair spawning gravel, and increase turbidity in the water;
E. Controlled introduction of pollutants (i.e. petrochemical and thermal);
F. Maintenance of a flood plain for staging of waters and deposition of
sediment outside the main river channel.3
Maintenance of fisheries is a concern on the Truckee River, Evans Creek, Hunter
Creek, Thomas Creek and Whites Creek.
The Department of Wildlife has established guidelines for appropriate bank treatment.
The preferred vegetative pattern along the river bank is Fremont Cottonwoods planted
on 25' centers, with an under story of willow and rose. A tall canopy is preferred. Larger
trees will need to be wrapped to protect against girdling by beavers. Willows provide an
alternate food source for beavers and should be planted to reduce demands on the
___________________ 2 Nevada Dept. of Wildlife. Fishable Waters of Nevada. 1987.
3 Christopher J. Hunter. Better Trout Habitat: A Guide to Stream Restoration and Management.
(Washington, D.C.: Island Press)
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