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Truckee River - Source to Sea

From June 2nd-11th, 2017 Rivers for Change ran the first Truckee River Source to (Inland) Sea Environmental Learning Adventure and Paddling Fundraiser!

With community support we raised almost $20,000 for Educational Outreach and our Student Ambassador Team!  As part of the Source To Sea Adventure, we hosted five public event days including four public paddling days on Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River.


The journey began on the Upper Truckee River and flowed into Lake Tahoe on the South Shore.  After crossing Lake Tahoe we paddled along the entire Truckee River from Tahoe City to its terminus in Pyramid Lake, Nevada.  We engaged communities and schools within the watershed and along the river through hands on interaction, educational events and paddling adventures.  We highlighted the unique ecological values and conservation efforts affecting the Truckee River and the entire watershed


A small core team completed the entire journey, including several long endurance paddles and Class IV whitewater. In addition, a team of student ambassadors completed several key legs of the Source To Sea journey, and represented multiple schools located along the Truckee River watershed.

Core Team

Sue Norman

Sue Norman

Team Leader

A long time river enthusiast, starting at the tender age of 2.5 on family canoe trips in the Ozarks. In addition to a lifetime of recreational pursuits on rivers, she was also a member of several US whitewater kayaking and rafting teams, competing on rivers all over the world. Her accomplishments include winning the National Whitewater Kayak Slalom Championships in 1982, and several world championships as a member of the US Women’s Whitewater Rafting Team. In 2016, Sue retired from a 27 year career as a hydrologist with the US Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. During her career, she and her staff completed numerous watershed, stream channel, and meadow restoration projects throughout the Tahoe Basin (including the Upper and Middle Truckee River) in collaboration with a wide variety of state and local partners. She currently lives in Truckee, CA with her partner Lisa and her seven year old son Seth.

Jay Wild

Team Member

Although Jay grew up in San Clemente, California it wasn’t until he moved permanently to Lake Tahoe in 2005 that he fully realized his passion for paddling. Jay has quickly become a top competitor and a true “waterman” excelling in multiple ocean style paddle sports, and currently dominating in the Lake Tahoe SUP racing circuit. Merging his passion with his work, Jay and his wife Anik have founded a number of business ventures at Lake Tahoe providing paddling support and coaching including Waterman’s Landing Paddle Cafe, Paddle Elite Fitness, Lake Tahoe Waterman Association, and Jay’s most rewarding business, the Junior Tahoe Waterman Camp.

“I love watching kids progress from day one to day four. Kids adapt fast and if you make it fun but also show them some basic water safety and paddling skills it allows them to fully enjoy the water. And every once in awhile you get one that just falls in love with paddling whether it be SUP, outrigger, prone, kayaking or surfski and you can see them change and see them find themselves and that is so rewarding to me.” Although relatively new to paddling rivers, Jay will be attempting to navigate the entire Truckee River on a SUP, during the Truckee River StS Adventure. Jay and Anik currently live in Truckee, CA, with their 6 year old son Jaxi.

Over the past 3 months, three of our core team members (Judy Jensen, AD Fogg, and Morgan Hoestrey) had to drop out because of serious personal or family illness. Our thoughts are with them all for speedy and complete recovery. So Jay and Sue will be joined by a larger team of support paddlers that will join them on different legs of the journey to help provide safety and support to our student team and guest paddlers. This includes several skilled paddler parents of the student ambassador team, Swiftwater Rescue Units from the Truckee Fire District and the Reno Fire Department, and other skilled paddlers from the Truckee/Reno boating community. We are extremely grateful for this broad support from the Truckee watershed boating community!

Student Ambassadors


Wyatt Peek

Age 13

I am excited to be apart of the Source to Sea paddle. I love the river and being on the river. I also enjoy learning about the river and water. I have a lot of river experience. I have been going on the river since I was 3 years old and I have been kayaking since I was 10 years old. I have rafted class 4 rapids and I can kayak class 3. I am able to roll in rapids and I am hoping to kayak my first class 4 this summer. The rivers I have done include the Truckee, South Fork of the American (upper and lower), Salmon, Green, Klamath, and the Rogue river. I have also done 4 years of Junior Guide School. My parents have 45 combined years of river experience. But most importantly, I would really love to do this because I love the river and being on the river. I love learning new things about the river and I really love to paddle. I looking forward to teaching people about the river. I think this is going to be a great experience and I am excited to be apart of it. (Alder Creek Middle School, Truckee, CA)

Annsley Akers

Age 14

I love the river. I enjoy kayaking and rafting in the summers and skiing in the winter. My favorite section of a river is the Gates of Ladore in the Green River. I have been rafting for about six years and kayaking for about four. I have covered about seven rivers in my life. I want to help educate more people about the river because I believe that when you teach people about the river and its watershed and ecology, you are promoting your love for the river. I also think that people should be educated about river safety. When I can pass on my respect for the river, I am helping others gain the same appreciation and love for rivers. (Sierra Environmental Learning School, Truckee, CA)

Laurel Mary Rose Anderson

Age 11

Laurel has always had a deep appreciation for the beauty and power of the river. She grew up rafting and kayaking with her family primarily on the Arkansas, Kern, American, and Truckee rivers. She has done multi-day expeditions on the San Juan and Green Rivers of Utah, as well as the Rogue and Klamath Rivers of California. Laurel’s mother was a long time raft guide all over the country, and her love of rivers has evolved into to her present volunteer work with Friends of the River where she gets to share this love and appreciation with Laurel and her younger sister in a way that promotes the protection and preservation of these beautiful resources. Laurel paddled for Paddle to the Capital with FOR last year and is excited to take her commitment to and love for the river to the next level as a Student Ambassador with Rivers for Change. Laurel also enjoys being on the snowboard team at Northstar California, swim team, and competing in soccer. She is currently working on her Silver Award through Girl Scouts, compiling all of the various volunteer opportunities for middle schoolers in Truckee/Tahoe. She also enjoys supporting green action in her community by participating in the McConkey Eco Challenge with SELS, the Eco Action team through the Sierra Watershed Educational Partnerships, Friends of the River, and Rivers for Change. (Sierra Expeditionary Learning School, Truckee, California).

Chloe Tippett

Age 10

On the river, I am home. I have been going on river trips since I was a baby. I have spent more days than I can count on the South Fork of the American River. And have swum almost every rapid! In the summer, my family takes me and my brother on a month long rafting road trip to places like the Lower Klamath and the Lower Salmon. I love it so much that I never want to leave. A few years ago, we even did a very long trip that connected the Middle Fork of the Salmon, the Main Salmon, and the Lower Salmon. I have been down the river on oar boats, catarafts, paddle boats, inflatable kayaks, hard shell kayaks, and paddle boards. I got my first hard shell kayak when I was 4 years old. I learned to roll in the pool when I was 7. But, I’m still working on my river roll! I have taken Junior Guides Rafting Camp, as well as kayaking classes in Coloma. I have also completed an adult Swift Water Rescue course. I want to go on this trip to learn more about the Truckee River and then teach it to kids in my school. I want to do this so that kids know what is happening to their environment and together we can help fix some of the problems. I also want to spend time with other kids that feel the same way that I do about the river. (Creekside/Squaw Valley Preparatory, Olympic Valley, CA)

Beckley Clark

Age 12

I like rafting, kayaking, and paddle boarding. I have been traveling down the Truckee River for as long as I can remember. Last year I went on a 10 day trip to the Green River. I paddle boarded, rafted, and rowed the oak oars. I also kayaked through whitewater. My Dad was raft guide for All Outdoors for 12 years. He taught me many things about reading the river. He also shared his knowledge with me about kayaking and rafting. (North Tahoe Middle School, Tahoe City, CA)
Tobin Bio Pic

Tobin DuBois

Age 10

I have paddled on the Grande Ronde, San Juan, Labyrinth, Carson and Truckee rivers, to name a few. I enjoy play boating and river running in whitewater kayaks; I also enjoy rafting and boogie boarding on rivers. I have chosen to be a river ambassador since the Truckee is my local river and I want to make sure it stays pristine river and a place I can always come to kayak and meet other river people. (Roy Gromm Elementary School, Reno, NV).
Harland Bio

Harland Dubois

Age 13

I have been paddling for most of my life. I started paddling when I was about 8th months old. I have mostly paddled on the Truckee river. I have also gone paddling on multiple other rivers, such as the Grand Ronde, Payettes, San Juan and the Mangles river in New Zealand. I would consider myself a low-mid class 3 paddler and have done some pretty large rapids; like 8 foot rapid on the San Juan river. (Archie Clayton Middle School in Reno, NV)

Quinn Goddard

Age 11

Rivers have been part of my life since I was born. I love rafting and kayaking. Both my parents are river guides. My dad owns Bio Bio Expeditions so I’ve been lucky to raft around the world including: the Futaleufu in Chile, the Chilko in British Columbia, and lots of rivers in the USA. Every year I go to Chile and this year I paddled my first class 5 rapid in a raft. My favorite river is the Futaleufu in Chile. For three years I’ve gone to junior river guide camp on the American River. When I grow up I want to be a river guide. In my IK I’ve done a class 4 and now I’m getting back into kayaking. This year I’m hoping to get my roll better and then do a combat roll. I can’t wait to go on the Truckee river with everyone and meet new people. Besides having fun I’m excited for this trip to learn about the Truckee river watershed and river conservation. I want to share my love and respect for rivers with my friends and family. (Alder Creek Middle School, Truckee, CA)

Will Bias

Age 13

I love science and the great outdoors. I love the water I think it’s the greatest thing since the big bang. When my family heard that I had got elected for this trip they fully supportive of me, that’s why they are such a great family. Also I always loved to learn about the Truckee and I feel like the Truckee River itself would be the best place to learn hands on about it. I feel very strong and confident that I will do my best on this trip. (South Tahoe Middle School, South Lake Tahoe, CA)

Alyssa Skotvold

Age 11

I am a Tahoe local who loves to be out in the warm summer sun. I love to go swimming in Tahoe’s lake in the summer. My grandpa owns a house in the Tahoe Keys. He has a few kayaks, a canoe and a paddleboard. When I go out on the lagoon on a windy day it’s the most fun because I try to fight against the wind and water currents. When I’m on the water alone, I feel free. I can’t wait until I get to paddle all the way down the Truckee River.(South Tahoe Middle School, South Lake Tahoe, CA)

Guest Paddlers

There were numerous opportunities for guest paddlers to participate on key legs of the journey.  They got to paddle the scenic west shore of Lake Tahoe, run fun whitewater between Tahoe City and Reno and floated through beautiful meandering meadow & wetland reaches.

School Outreach

We reached over 750 students in schools throughout the watershed with dynamic in-class presentations.  We held out-of-classroom events along the river to facilitate in-depth interaction with a variety of our river/watershed stewardship partners.


The river stewardship issues affecting the Truckee River watershed from the headwaters around Lake Tahoe, CA down to its terminus in Pyramid Lake, Nevada are both complex and diverse. Two of the biggest environmental challenges in the watershed exist in the very top and very bottom of the watershed.


Lower end of the watershed challenges

Lower end of the watershed challenges, are more complex. Resolving the issues around legacy sources of pollution and the over allocation of water in the lower Truckee River watershed is still a work in progress. These issues affect a large number of stakeholders, with a very diverse and often conflicting range of interests, ranging from diversions to farmers in the Carson River drainage to sustaining native fish species in Pyramid Lake (the inland sea terminus of the Truckee River).

East of Reno, Nevada approximately a third of the Truckee River in a normal year is diverted into the Carson River drainage, to support irrigated agriculture. This diversion at Derby Dam, taking water out of one watershed to augment water in another watershed, was the very first water project in the nation implemented by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1906.  About 6% (in a normal year) is also diverted out of the Truckee river to provide drinking water to almost 400,000 residents in east Reno. Almost half of that is returned to the river after sewage treatment.

Upper watershed challenges

Upper watershed challenges around Lake Tahoe, reducing sediment and nutrient loading to restore Tahoe clarity, and controlling invasive species, are relatively well known, and have received a tremendous amount of state, federal, and local funding to address these issues. The work is not yet done, but the mission is clear, relatively non-controversial, and the programs and partnerships are mostly in place to achieve that mission.


The contrast between the communities along the river are great, ranging from the very popular outdoor recreation communities of South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City, and Truckee, the urban and industrial environment of Reno and Sparks, to the remote and relatively isolated community of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.

Managing outflows

Managing outflows from Lake Tahoe and numerous reservoirs in the watershed to support a wide variety of interests, is a delicate and complex exercise. Through both drought and floods, water flows are managed to maintain optimal lake and reservoir levels, provide river flows to support fisheries and whitewater rafting, prevent flooding to communities along the river, and provide established water allocations for drinking water supply and irrigation. A more inclusive process for decision making regarding water flow management through the Truckee River Basin Water Group (TRBWG), is currently under development.

There are numerous entities throughout the watershed working to restore and protect water quality and effectively manage water quantity throughout the watershed. The links below will take you to the websites of the river/watershed stewardship partners we are highlighting through our project, to connect communities to the issues affecting their back yard river. Please use these links to get informed and get engaged!


We’re incredibly grateful to the following businesses for getting involved as sponsors for the important Truckee River Source To Sea Environmental Learning Adventure.

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