Grant will help reroute, reduce sediment in creeks | SierraSun.com

Grant will help reroute, reduce sediment in creeks

David Bunker, Sierra Sun
Photo courtesy of Larry ProsorGray Creek, near the state line in the Hirschdale area, will benefit from a grant received by the Truckee River Watershed Council and its partners.
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The Truckee River Watershed Council and three partners were awarded a $800,000 state grant to restore three creeks in Nevada and Sierra counties over the next three years.

The restoration of Gray Creek, near the state line, and Davies and Merrill creeks, north of Stampede Reservoir, are part of a statewide effort to support clean drinking water, flood protection and water quality. The California State Water and Resources Control Board awarded the grant, which comes from Proposition 13 money – a $1.97 billion water bond passed in 2000.

The Truckee River watershed has recently been studied for sediment levels, and the creek restoration is meant to combat increased sedimentation that can harm fish and other water organisms in the area’s creeks and rivers. A complex study to determine the Truckee River watershed’s natural sediment level and set a threshold at which sediment levels would violate state standards has been in the works for more than one year.

The watershed council is partnering with the Desert Research Institute, Tahoe National Forest and the Truckee Donner Land Trust, which has an option to acquire 950 acres of land around Gray Creek as part of the project.

The 950 acres, if acquired, would add to more than 400 acres the land trust already owns in the canyon. The entire canyon is recovering from effects of the 2001 Martis Fire, but it is not as decimated as surrounding areas, said Truckee Donner Land Trust Executive Director Perry Norris.

“It’s remarkable how good it looks a couple years after the burn,” Norris said.

Norris said the entire area owned by the land trust will be open to public recreation, and he even hopes the Gray Creek trail can be re-established in the canyon.

The partnership plans to acquire the land this year and begin restoration efforts next year. At Gray Creek that means eliminating poorly constructed roads that contribute to sediment pollution in the creek and revegetating the area.

At the junction of Davies and Merrill creeks, an old railroad spur diverted the course of the creek that previously fed a meadow. The restoration crew will remove the spur, reroute the creek to its original course and reintroduce vegetation in the area.

“The meadow will get the correct water flow,” said Truckee River Watershed Council Executive Director Lisa Wallace. “The railroad spur was blocking the water flow.”

Before, during and after the project on Davies and Merrill creeks, the watershed council will monitor the area to see the effect of the restoration on the creek.

In addition to local experts who will be hired to do the projects, the grant partners hope citizens will volunteer to help in the effort.

“We know there is a lot of interest in both of the projects,” said Wallace, who added that the two projects must conclude by 2006, under conditions of the grant.

The Truckee River Watershed Council was founded in 1998 to protect and restore the water quality and biological resources of the Truckee River watershed. Their restoration and preservation projects include Truckee River Day, in which 400-800 volunteers come out to help restore the Truckee River, and Truckee River Aquatic Monitors, a volunteer effort to measure the Truckee River’s water quality.

For more information, go to sierrasun.com or http://www.truckeeriverwc.org.