The owner of the largest commercial rafting operation on the Truckee River is concerned about who will clean the popular rafting location of trash.
Commercial rafting companies are tasked with cleaning up garbage that rafters leave behind on their 5 mile float downstream from Tahoe City. But rafting companies closed up shop last week, over a month earlier than normal because of low river flows due to the drought.
“With the drought this year and the lack of commercial rafting there’s going to be no one left to clean the river,” said Aaron Rudnick, owner of Truckee River Rafting.
There is still enough water flow to support tubers and people who own their own rafts. There are still five weeks left in the rafting season with no one to pick up after them.
His crew normally collects trash from the river bottom and its banks about once per week. They had one last task on Tuesday, showing a group of Forest Service interns the ins and outs of cleaning up the river.
“We’re going to teach them how to do it. We love the river and we spend time on it and we want to see it clean whether we’re here or not,” said Rudnick.
Raft handler Josh Romero lives locally and has a vested interest in keeping the river clean so that tourist get a good impression of the area. But he’s also disappointed that several garbage bags are filled with cans, bottles, sun glasses, wrappers and assorted other discarded items.
“I’m pretty surprised that people come here on vacation and don’t respect our homes…kind of a shame,” said Romero.
Nicholas Brogna , one of the Forest Service interns who has rafted down the river, said he has no problem helping out.
“It’s a beautiful place and I think people should see it as it truly is, not with trash everywhere. I’m totally fine with picking up trash,” said Brogna.
Just who will organize future clean-up efforts is unclear. Placer county is supposed to partner with commercial raft companies in cleaning up the river, but raft companies say they haven’t participated in recent years.
Rudnick is urging people to pack out their garbage or pick up trash that they happen upon. He says tubers and rafters should take plastic garbage bags with them, something that is often overlooked when planning a trip down the Truckee River.