by Beth Christman, Director of Restoration Programs
In 1997 a large landslide careened through staff lodging facilities in the middle of the night at the Thredbo ski resort in Australia killing 18 people. Two of those people were well-regarded local ski instructors, Michael and Miriam Sodergren. The loss was a tragedy that affected many members of our community here in Tahoe and Truckee, including close friend Robie Litchfield. Robie feels strongly that Mike and Miriam represented a breed of people who made their lives in the mountains and devoted their time to teaching others how to love and respect our natural ecosystem.
Together with Robie and other friends, Mike’s brother decided that the best way to memorialize the couple was to get their friends together and donate their time to an environmental project. Truckee River Day was a perfect match.
It’s been 15 years and the Sodergren Group hasn’t missed a Truckee River Day yet! Robie has been instrumental as a steward of their legacy and a group leader. They’ve worked on some of our biggest restoration projects – including the Merrill Davies project where they hauled sod mats onto small earthen plugs to promote vegetation growth on bare dirt. They spent hours in Perazzo Meadows waddling willows and pounding stakes to help reduce erosion on stream banks.
The Sodergren group shows up every year with at least 20 people and includes an ever-expanding net of friends, families and new generations who never even met Mike and Miriam. They are an inspirational group we can always count on to bring the big numbers, do the hard work, and get the job done. Their volunteerism and the improvements in our watershed are the Sodergren’s legacy.
The Watershed Council appreciates the efforts of the Sodergrens and all of our volunteers. There are so many others that have this depth of commitment – this is just one story. But in the face of changes in our community, we continue to depend on all the watershed’s users to support our restoration efforts. The Truckee River Watershed Council identified 50 high priority projects within the watershed that require restoration and protection. We need everyone’s help get the work done.
Join hundreds of other volunteers on October 20th, many of whom feel that they get more than they give at Truckee River Day. Robie reflects on her volunteer experiences, “Truckee River Day introduced us to new areas of the watershed in our back yard that we never would have visited if it weren’t for the Watershed Council. It has taught us to recognize erosion and poorly-functioning ecosystems, as well as ways we can contribute to halt and even reverse these processes. More importantly, each year we get to see and feel how we can contribute to conservation first hand.”