Martis Creek restoration project in progress
Restoration on the Martis Creek Wildlife area began this week with the Truckee River Watershed Council along with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers repairing 70 acres of meadow and two miles of streams.
“Part of the problem is through 150 years of human impact we’ve altered that meadow,” said Michele Prestowitz, program manager with the Truckee River Watershed Council. “We’re trying to bring it back to it’s more natural meadow,” said Prestowitz.
Due to the development of roads and home throughout the valley, the creek was altered and began cutting down into the meadow. This has dried out vegetation on the surface which serves as a food source for the wildlife in the area.
“The meadow is heavily degraded it’s not functioning. We’ve lost habitat and wildlife in the area,” said Brenda Gilbert, development director of the Truckee River Watershed Council, who added that if something isn’t done the damage could be irreversible. “By doing this restoration now we feel so gratified that we’re actually saving this meadow for the future.”
The project aims to reduce soil erosion, restore wildlife habitats, reinstate native wildflowers and reverse the degradation that has occurred.
When planning the project they identified “acute issues that had the potential to be bigger problems” according to Matt Freitas, program manager for the watershed council. They identified three sites at tributaries that are scattered around the area that needed attention.
The $3.5 million project has been in the works since 2016 when the council began a concept design. Before that they completed a full scale watershed assessment of the entire Martis Valley in 2012 to identify the projects that needed to be completed.
“It’s really based in science. Making sure that what we were proposing was going to come up with the nature, habitat and water quality benefits that we were looking for,” said Prestowitz.
Funding for the project is through grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation. Freitas said much of the pre-construction work was funded through the Martis Fund, the Bella Vista Foundation and private donors.
“We’ve been working on this for several years,” said Prestowitz. “Each little step along the way feels really good it felt great to start mobilizing the construction on Monday. We’re excited about what the outcomes are going to be and the true benefit for the environment.”
The project is expected to be completed in October. During construction the Martis Creek trail will be closed but the Tompkins Memorial Trail will be kept open. Find more information on maps trails and closures here.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at email@example.com or 530-550-2652.