This past week, I traveled to Reno, Nevada to attend a meeting for the Truckee Meadows Trails Initiative. The coalition associated with this initiative has partnered with the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation in an effort to increase access to open space and alternative transportation for residents of the Truckee Meadows region. Instead of one project, this initiative seeks to create a cohesive network of trails around the Truckee Meadows by linking multiple trails together, and to main access points in urban areas.
This initiative is timely, as Nevada is experiencing an increase in development both in major cities and along main highways. As one person described to us, cities like Reno and Sparks have undergone positive development of previously underfunded areas, but due to limited space, are experiencing a shortage of parking. This suggests a demand for alternative transportation methods, such as public buses and safer routes for bikes. It was interesting to hear this perspective from a resident of the Reno-Sparks area, as she was unaware of the Truckee Meadows Trails initiative, yet still described a need for improved transportation and access to open spaces.
In tandem with the desire to maintain natural spaces in light of growing development, the trails initiative intends to be a conduit for both transportation and access needs of those who live in and visit the Truckee Meadows. The initiative is based on the concepts of connectivity and accessibility. The ultimate goal for the association is to support projects that contribute to this goal, so that the region is entirely connected by walkable-bikeable trails, with access points within a mile from any given area. The rights and needs of Indigenous people also adds a layer of complexity to the project. The coalition is working to resolve issues of miscommunication and misrepresentation of Tribal interests by other agencies in order to ensure that cultural sites and other important locations are not interfered with by the trail network. In order to do this, as people in the coalition expressed, other agencies must stop attempting to speak for the Tribes, so that the plan for the trail network centers Indigenous peoples’ genuine wishes.
This trip made me reevaluate the way I view river, trail and conservation projects. The Truckee Meadows initiative’s decision to act as a supporting entity to improve trails throughout the region, instead of focusing on one single trail, is a concept I hadn’t previously encountered. I’m excited to see how the trail network is able to come together through an analysis of where trails and access to natural spaces are most needed, and through the guidance of people who are Indigenous to the region.