River Day; Hundreds help celebrate community’s commitment to the Truckee River | SierraSun.com

River Day; Hundreds help celebrate community’s commitment to the Truckee River

About 800 volunteers – primarily from Truckee – learned firsthand Sunday about the Truckee River watershed as they planted along river and tributary banks, released Lahontan cutthroat trout and collected trash.

Truckee River Day, sponsored by Truckee River Habitat Restoration Group, is the group’s largest annual event and, while only in its second year, drew hundreds of people who wanted to volunteer their time and services to improve the river.

People at the free event with an educational emphasis helped clean up litter and debris, revegetate banks, build rock stairways and collect seeds and plant seedlings.

“What I love about it (Truckee River Day) is that it demonstrates the commitment of this community to the Truckee River System,” said Kathleen Eagan, executive director of the Truckee River Habitat Restoration Group.

A celebration

Eagan said the participation of so many people from a small community – “families, folks in their 70s, and teenagers” – demonstrated the recognition and celebration of the river as the community’s primary asset.

According to Eagan, one of the interesting things about the results of the first Truckee River Day 1996 was that some of the work and planting completed last year survived the harsh floods of January 1997.

Some of the rock work for bank stabilization held up through the storms and flooding, as did willow plantings, which provide habitat for birds and fish.

However, some tree plantings were lost in the floods because they take longer to establish themselves, Eagan said.

Sarah Trebilcock, Truckee River Day organizer and member of the Truckee River Habitat Restoration Group Board of Directors, emphasized the importance of education.

“The most important thing is for the community to know about river restoration and why we need to do it,” Trebilcock said.

Habitat or watershed restoration includes bank stabilization, revegetation, removing garbage and closing and rehabilitating poorly located dirt roads and trails to reduce erosion.

Also, placing logs and boulders in streams can replace hiding cover for fish and other aquatic organisms.

Funding shortage

Trebilcock said money is another important element because federal funding has been cut, and now the only money available is that for which there are matching local dollars.

The Truckee River Habitat Restoration Group, a community based non-profit organization, seeks grants for funding and partnerships with individuals, companies and agencies to plan and implement all aspects of watershed restorations.

Truckee River Day 1997, facilitated by the U.S. Forest Service, Truckee Ranger District, was based at Granite Flat Campground, about one mile south of Truckee on Highway 89.

There more than 20 groups were assigned to various projects along the Truckee River, its tributaries and drainages between the Glenshire Bridge and Tahoe City.

Group leaders were specialists in many fields, including archaeology, history, animals, plant ecology, birds, fly fishing, geology, insects and revegetation.

There were also diving and disabled groups.

Clean-up groups included children five years old and older, planting groups included families and children, and bank stabilization and revegetation included groups of older children and adults.

There was also a fly fishing group.

The day culminated with children releasing 400-500 young Lahontan cutthroat trout, provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

In addition to the work groups and fish release, Truckee River Day included exhibits, a community picnic, and a presentation on the ecology of bark beetle in the river corridor by Sheri Smith, entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service Regional Office.

Truckee River Day supporters and contributors include Alpine Meadows, Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce, California School of Flyfishing, Coca-Cola, Donner Gate Chevron, Lahontan Golf Club, Lucky – Truckee and Tahoe City, Master Gardeners, Mountain Hardware, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, National Forest Foundation, Patagonia, Mary Plehn, Rare Earth Landscaping, Safeway – Truckee and Tahoe

City, SierraWest Bank, Sign Shop, Squaw Valley Academy, Taco Station, Tahoe Whitewater Tours, Tributary Whitewater Tours, Truckee Noon Rotary, Truckee Rents, Truckee Sunrise Rotary, Villager Nursery and Robie Wilson Landscape Architect.

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