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Volunteers monitor Truckee’s watershed

Greyson Howard/Sierra SunSun Assistant Editor David Bunker carefully adds a chemical to a vial of water drawn from Cold Creek Thursday as part of an Adopt A Stream program for the Truckee River watershed.
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Three volunteers from the Sierra Sun approached Cold Creek Thursday morning, a short distance from where the stream empties into Donner Creek.

On a checklist, the Adopt A Stream crew noted the presence of trash and garbage strewn along the creek’s banks.

Passing stands of willow trees, the volunteers found Cold Creek’s waters had ebbed since the last monitoring day three months earlier. After measuring the stream’s width and depth, the team took samples of water and started the titration procedure to measure the water’s oxygen content.



As he squeezed drops of sulfuric acid into a vial of stream water, editor David Bunker counted the drops in halting German.

“Eins! Zwei! Drei! Vier! Funf!” began Bunker and the other members of the self-described Titration Trio as they counted out eight drops.



This week’s monitoring was the third installment of a new Adopt A Stream program sponsored in the Tahoe-Truckee area by the Truckee River Watershed Council.

In the first two sessions, volunteer teams tested the waters of 10 tributaries of the Truckee. Along with the annual Snapshot Day, when volunteers focus on the Truckee River from Lake Tahoe to Reno, the Adopt A Stream crews found a relatively healthy watershed, according to the Watershed Council’s Beth Christman.

“The numbers indicate no big problems in our portion of the watershed,” Christman said. She praised the quality of the data, attributing it to the conscientious volunteers.

“People enjoy doing it,” Christman said of the quarterly field tests.

This week’s Adopt A Stream monitoring will be the last until spring, since several of the monitoring sites will become inaccessible during winter weather.

Although the Sierra Nevada Alliance grant that funded the local Adopt A Stream program will soon run out, Christman has continued to recruit volunteers for new monitoring teams. Most recently, she worked with the Teen Center and Truckee Donner Recreation and Parks District, giving crash courses in stream monitoring.

“It’s kind of exciting to have a new burst of enthusiasm from volunteers,” she said in an interview Thursday. “All of us would like to see the program grow steadily. It’s a very important program.”

The Sierra Sun volunteers completed their work at Cold Creek, summarizing their findings in a comprehensive checklist. The tests were easier to conduct in low-water conditions, Bunker said.

“Three months ago, I had to wade into the water; my legs went semi-numb,” Bunker said. “This time the water went down so much we didn’t have to get wet.”

The Truckee River Watershed Council plans to hold more Adopt A Stream training session next spring. For more information, contact Beth Christman at 550-8760 or check out the Web site at http://www.truckeeriverwc.org.


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