Committed to the Community
Wesley Reid, executive director of Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, says one of the coolest things he’s done in the last few months is help some Sparks High School students clean up the neighborhoods around their school.
He says about 200 students, parents and teachers volunteered to spend a day picking up about 10-12 truckloads of garbage and debris and hauling it to the transfer station. They also returned a bunch of shopping carts to the grocery stores they’d been taken from.
“The day was a lot of fun because they were really able to energize the student body,” says Reid.
Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, a Stamford, Conn.-based public education organization dedicated since 1953 to helping people take responsibility for the environment of their community.
Reid explains that Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful has been around for nearly 11 years, but its original name was Western Nevada Clean Communities.
“Our mission is to clean and beautify the local, regional environment,” says Reid.
Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, a private, nonprofit organization, receives support—financial and otherwise—from Washoe County and the cities of Reno and Sparks. Other support comes from individiual donors, service clubs and local corporations.
“We have a nice grant right now from the state of Nevada’s Department of Environmental Protection which supports Christmas tree recycling and phone book recycling and some of our education activities,” says Reid.
The 10th annual Christmas tree recycling program is a partnership between Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful and several local companies.
“Recycling Christmas trees provides a lot of benefit to the community,” says Reid. “The program preserves landfill space, cuts down on illegal dumping and contributes to cleaner air because fewer trees are burned. And the mulch is used in local park projects throughout the year for landscaping, weed abatement and soil erosion prevention.”
Burning a Christmas tree in a fireplace is dangerous, as the build-up of creosote in the chimney flue creates a fire hazard.
The Christmas tree recycling program is just one of Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful’s big, annual events.
One of its original events was Adopt-a-Park, which now takes place every May.
“That event actually pre-dates the organization,” says Reid. “The organization actually grew out of that event. The idea was to get volunteers out in the community to help maintain and clean up the parks in the area. For example, the last couple years we’ve had volunteers out at between 20-25 Washoe County, Reno and Sparks parks in the area.”
The one-day event gives volunteers a chance to focus on “wish lists” created by park staff and Reid.
Reid says the “wishes” can be as simple as walking along a trail and picking up litter to, for example, an erosion-control project carried out last May at a park in Sun Valley.
“We got some rip-rap, which is like rock, donated from Granite Construction and they lined an eroding ditch with that,” says Reid.
More common jobs include planting flowers and trees to painting and applying wood preservatives to wooden structures.
Reid explains that the activities are generally not technical, so anyone is encouraged to participate. This May will be the 15th year for the Adopt-a-Park event.
In addition to Adopt-a-Park, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful has developed and sustained a similar program, Adopt-a-Spot, which Reid describes as a local version of adopt-a-highway.
“It’s a program that is a partnership with the city of Reno and the city of Sparks,” says Reid. “Their public works people identify stretches of roadway that are adoptable, [which may mean] in need of a little bit of cleanup. We try to get different groups in the community to adopt that spot. That group then gets a sign that says their name on it and ‘Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful'. We ask that they go out at least four times a year to clean up.
“That program has grown quite a bit in the last four years,” adds Reid.
With a paid staff of two—Reid and volunteer coordinator, Julie Scheve—covering the Truckee Meadows, which Reid considers to be from Washoe Valley to the north valleys and from Verdi to Lockwood, may seem daunting.
But the 16-person board of trustees has identified the consultant role as a priority—as Reid played in the Sparks High School cleanup.
“If someone wants to coordinate a community cleanup, we can provide our expertise and maybe help with getting supplies and things like that,” says Reid. “I would work with the interested party to figure out the areas they’re interested in addressing and whether there are any sort of natural volunteer groups in the area that we could draw upon.”
Reid says Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful has been involved in a long-standing neighborhood cleanup, the Campus-to-Keystone Cleanup, which uses fraternities and sororities as the labor pool twice a year.
“That one [works] on its own, but we’re still involved,” says Reid. “We can help more things like that get established.”
Reid says Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful’s general focus includes litter prevention, litter cleanup and community beautification.
“I think a lot of times when people think of environment, they think ‘out in the mountains',” says Reid. “But it’s a community, urban environment.”
Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful
Julie Scheve or Wes Reid