Truckee River loses its footing(s)
After disrupting the Truckee River’s flow for almost 30 years, bridge footings near the river’s confluence with Donner Creek were removed Tuesday by a construction crew.
The project was organized by the Truckee River Watershed Council and was meant to coordinate with the 8th Annual Truckee River Day that will take place on Sunday, Oct. 19.
The bridge footings had long been viewed as a nuisance in what is otherwise a beautiful spot on the Truckee River.
“People wanted to see those footings gone and see the area around it restored,” said Beth Christman of the TRWC. “It’s a really great access point to the river. We don’t want to prevent that access. It’s really just to enhance the visitor experience.”
The planned bridge across the Truckee River at the site was never completed, and the footings had sat unused for approximately 30 years.
The footing removal project should result in improvements to both instream habitat and water quality as organizers are planning a revegetation project on the riverbank where the bridge footings used to be, thereby preventing much of the erosion that had been taking place.
The removal of the footings took two days and a crew of four. Many of the steel H-beams that supported the footings were sunk almost eight feet in the wet mud of the river bottom, requiring excavator operator Ron Gregg to use all the leverage he could muster to pull them out.
Many times throughout the day, Gregg had his excavator precariously balanced on the tips of its treads as he jerked the H-beams back and forth, up and down, until one by one, they grudgingly released their grip on the streambed.
Major funding for the project came from the recently created Tahoe Mountain Resorts Environmental Fund-a non-profit organization created by East West Partners and dedicated to protecting the natural environment in the Truckee-North Lake Tahoe area.
Fund director Aaron Revere estimated that the fund has contributed more than $30,000 to the bridge footing removal project.
“We think it’s a great project. It’s the first project for the new fund we’ve set up…and it’s something you can actually see,” Revere said. “We’re just happy to be able to help (the TRWC) with one of their projects.”
Other local companies and organizations that contributed to the project include: Auerbach Engineering, Inc., which donated a significant portion of the costs of conducting the property survey; Teichert Aggregates, which helped in the recycling of the concrete footings; Jim Fereira of Fereira Construction, who was the contractor hired to remove the footings and also donated a number of boulders that will be used to limit vehicle access to the site; and the California State Water Resources Control Board, which provided support for materials and staff time.
Organizers at the Truckee River Watershed Council now hope to sign up a large number of volunteers for Truckee River Day 2003 to help with 17 to 18 projects on or near the Truckee River, including the cleanup and revegetation of the old bridge site.
Some of the projects that are scheduled for Oct. 19 include: planting vegetation on the riverbank to prevent erosion and improve water quality, trash pickup, building bat boxes, trail realignment projects, water quality monitoring and an illegal-road eradication project near Alder Creek Road.
Anyone interested in volunteering on Truckee River Day is encouraged to pre-register for the event by visiting http://www.truckeeriverday.org, or by calling (530) 550-8760.
In the week leading up to Truckee River Day, volunteers will be contacted with information about what kind of project they will be working on and when and where to meet on the Oct. 19.
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Volunteers are being sought to take water samples from creeks, streams and smaller lakes, including Lake Tahoe, in the Tahoe-Truckee watershed to get a snapshot of water quality at a single moment in time.