Consultants outline Squaw Creek restoration choices | SierraSun.com

Consultants outline Squaw Creek restoration choices

David Bunker
Sierra Sun

The plans for restoring Squaw Creek rank from grand to geared-down, but local watershed activists can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel after an $80,000 study of the creek was presented Thursday afternoon.

Watershed consultants Philip Williams and Associates outlined the four options to restore the creek, ranging from pushing the creek back into its historic channel to completing restoration work on the existing channel.

“There are some challenges with this,” said Philip Williams and Associates consultant Mike Liquori. “It’s not a slam dunk.”

Currently the creek is suffering from years of abuse from early grazing, the Olympics ” “when the floodplain was used as a parking lot,” said Liquori ” and road, home and ski resort development.

Today, the creek is routed into a channel alongside the large Squaw Valley Ski Corp. parking lot, and the rest of the meadow is unnaturally straight.

The channel shoots high-speed water out into the meadow acting “in some cases like a shotgun,” said Liquori. The lower creek that winds through the Resort at Squaw Creek’s golf course is not that much healthier, and that is the area that the consultants focused on.

While the Friends of Squaw Creek, an informal group of concerned Squaw Valley residents, made no decision on which option will be chosen, they had obvious interest in pursuing many of the restoration themes in the report.

“There seems to be a lot of commonality between the four options,” said Ed Heneveld, chairman of the Friends of Squaw Creek.

The group will work with property owners along the creek, and seek grant funding that could fund the design, environmental review and construction of a large-scale restoration project on the creek, he said.

“It’s so exciting,” said Heneveld. “I don’t want to lose the momentum now.”

Placer County funded the $80,000 year-and-a-half study presented Thursday.

Squaw Creek is currently a creek impaired by sediment as listed by the state water board.

Ed Sullivan from Placer County said the sediment problem can be solved “before the regulatory hammer comes down.”

The watershed consultants said the group should find out which options are viable and then work toward a feasibility study on the restoration work before designing the project.

The opportunities to solve some of the creek’s most pressing problems are very real, said Liquori.

“One of the neat things about this project is there are a ton of things that we can do out there,” said Liquori.