All in a day's work: Hiking up a hill to water saplings

Becky Bosshart/Nevada Appeal Indiana Cruz, 21, from Arcadia, Calif., waters a Jeffrey pine on the slope of a Lakeview hill.

Becky Bosshart/Nevada Appeal Indiana Cruz, 21, from Arcadia, Calif., waters a Jeffrey pine on the slope of a Lakeview hill.

Standing on a hill in Lakeview you can look to the left and see the alternating patches of healthy green and dirt brown, areas scorched by last summer's Waterfall fire. Trees in the bare brown areas are charred black matchsticks pointing at the blue sky.

Look across the lush valley and the busy morning traffic on Highway 395, you'll see the hills reflecting in Washoe Lake. To the right are more black trees, some felled. Bark crumbles off them like charcoal.

When you look down you'll see what brought a team of volunteers here early Monday morning with water jugs: orange flags, each marking the spot of a Jeffrey pine seedling.

Hiking the steep hill takes a lot of energy, so Jo Misuraca, Lowe's community events organizer, rests every few feet. Her team of 15 workers are from the Lowe's management team and the Student Conservation Association Fire Education Corp.

"Just really put your heels into it," the 57-year-old mother of five said as she trudged up the hill.

This is the group's second trip up the hill this summer to water saplings planted by the Boy Scouts and other volunteers. She hopes other business and community groups will volunteer to water the trees. It takes two people eight hours to water the saplings, but 15 can do it in about two hours.

"Everyone remembers and felt involved with the fire," Misuraca said. "We wanted to get involved with the restoration as a group to help restore the community."

Midway up the hill, Jamie Galyen, 22, and Lorena Phelan, 30, watered seedlings using two-gallon flowering cans. Late arrivals get half-gallon or gallon plastic jugs.

"It doesn't really feel that hard because you know you're doing something good," Galyen said.

Phelan worked for the postal service delivering mail while the blaze was burning. This way she got to know Kings Canyon and Timberline families that lost their homes. She helped some rebuild.

Phelan said the Waterfall fire led her to upgrade the fire insurance on her Gardnerville home.

"Some of those families had homes worth $2.5 million but they only got $150,000 back because they didn't upgrade their insurance. That's the sad thing about all this," she said.

Indiana Cruz, 21, is a summer intern with the Student Conservation Association. The Arcadia, Calif., native has a bachelor's degree in forestry and can talk all day about trees.

"People help the homeless, why not help the world?" Cruz asked while watering trees higher up the hill.

Sweat glistened on the forehead of Guillermo Usquiano, a Lowe's department manager. He's here "to help out the little trees."

Back down the hill, Tom Schlapkohl handed out bottles of water to the volunteers.

"I was born and raised in Carson City, so this is my back yard," he said.

After a group picture was taken in front of the hill and Krispy Kreme donuts distributed, the volunteers went their separate ways, to work or home, until the next Monday morning watering.

n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.

You can help

To volunteer to water call:

University of Nevada, Reno Cooperative Extension

Meri McEneny or Lesley Bensinger, 887-2252

Available slots are open at the end of August into September


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment