Jean Myles writes of Virginia Lake

V Lake north end Sept_7Dear Karl,

 The article on Virginia Lake needs a follow-up, plus a rational “Save the Lake” committee!   Reno is known for its ability to raise money for causes.  Here is an excellent one.
When we came to Reno in 1958, the lake was beautiful.  The island had three majestic Weeping Willow trees, and, yes, children played in the lake at the south end, which had a beach that you could walk on with bare feet, or in the Cochran Ditch that supplies the water to the lake.  There is no way that anyone could go into the ditch with bare feet today.
Wood Ducks nested in the trees on the west side of Lakeside Drive.  We watched their tiny ducklings dropping from the trees and scooting across the road to the lake, where they thrived.  Loons came to the lake in the fall, stopping on their migratory path.  Then the cormorants, not a native bird, moved in and nested in the willow trees.  In a few short years, their toxic droppings killed the trees and created a barren, guano covered mound in the lake.  Now we have ducks and geese dying from the toxicity, and environmentalists saying that we need the lake for the cormorants.  Not so!
You noted that Virginia Lake has been drained twice.  We remember when it was drained in 1965.  All kinds of things were found, including (as I remember) an old safe, at least one motorcycle and bicycles.  Almost 50 years have passed since the lake was drained.   This is an opportune time to empty the lake once again, dredge it, repair the fountains – and the sidewalks around the lake – and re-establish a tree covered island.  I doubt if any type of plant could live on the Virginia Lake island now, and I cannot even begin to imagine what kind of “yuck” or artifacts would be found if the lake is drained.  Local archaeologists could be enticed to see what they could make of what would be found after the 50-year hiatus.  Perhaps the old island could be removed and a new island built in its place.  This could be a “Works Project Administration – WPA” project for the Biggest Little City.
How to get rid of the cormorants?  Yes, they are interesting to watch, but look at what they have done to the beautiful lake, one that used to be non-toxic.  If there is no lake, they will go elsewhere.  They are among the opportunists in the bird world.  The best idea would be to drain the lake now, and leave it to dry over the winter.  Once it dried, it could be cleaned out, then refilled when water is again available.
(Good Lord!  Does anyone even remember what the WPA did for the 1930s around the country?  Or the CCC for our forests?  Watching the Roosevelt Saga this past week on Channel 5 brought back all kinds of memories.  Virginia Lake was a WPA project.  My two uncles worked in the CCC in Sierra County, helping to create “fire defensible” forests.  And, that … is another soap box!  Note that when you get to my age, you find that there are many soap boxes to stumble over in your path.  You are doing very well with yours, by the way. … J.)
’til later … Jean