Putting the Little Truckee River back on track | SierraSun.com

Putting the Little Truckee River back on track

Greyson Howard/Sierra SunRandy Westoreland, watershed project manager with Tahoe National Forest, surveys some of the issues facing the Perazzo Meadows watershed. The Forest Service and Truckee River Watershed Council will be restoring the creeks and wetlands starting in August, and again next summer.

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Now that Perazzo Meadows is preserved and in public hands, the next step is restoring the Sierra County landscape to its former glory.

The 982 acres of sub-alpine meadow north of Truckee was recently preserved by the Truckee Donner Land Trust and the Trust for Public Land. Now the U.S. Forest Service and Truckee River Watershed Council are teaming up to restore the Little Truckee River and Perazzo Creek to undo past damage and improve the local ecology.

The problem likely started in the early 1900s with a dairy farm, said Randy Westmoreland, watershed program manager for the east side of Tahoe National Forest.

and#8220;There are indications they diverted the stream from its natural course to de-water what would be a really wet wetland for grazing purposes,and#8221; Westmoreland said. and#8220;People didnand#8217;t think much about the consequences way back when.and#8221;

This meant water was concentrated into a smaller area and sped up, causing erosion throughout the meadow, and drying out vegetation.

If the stream were on its natural course, it would overtop its banks every year or two, inundating the flood plane, which waters the vegetation and filters out sediment more effectively, Westmoreland said. Now it takes a 10-year flood event to overtop the eroded banks.

This also means water isnand#8217;t retained in the area as long through the dry summer months, and the two streams get too warm for many fish species, Westmoreland said.

So the forest service and watershed council started looking at fixes, obtaining a Proposition 40 grant for $373,000, said Beth Christman of the Truckee River Watershed Council.

When the state started freezing grants, the State Water Board was able to select a subset of projects and convert them to Stimulus package funds, including Perazzo Meadows, keeping the project on track for this summer, Christman said.

To get things back in working order, Westmoreland said he will work with an excavator and a loader to create plugs in the current steam course, diverting it back to its original route through the meadow.

The work crews will have to use earth from the area to make the plugs, which will leave behind some ponds, he said, which will eventually fill in with sediment and vegetation.

Work starts in the upper meadow mid-August, Westmoreland said, and continues next summer in the mid-meadow area.

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