Restoration efforts along the Truckee River east of Sparks worked as planned and survived without extensivedamage during the New Year's Eve flood, conservationists said.
Cottonwood and willow trees planted along the river at the
McCarran Ranch withstood the floodwaters, and sediment left behind
by flooding was welcome as work continues to restore the river to a
"For us, that sediment is kind of like gold," said Mauricia
Baca, Truckee River project manager for the Nature Conservancy.
Restoration projects have been underway for the past five years
at the historic ranch purchased by The Nature Conservancy.
During that time, there hasn't been any significant flooding
along the Truckee, and conservationists were pleased to see how
well the ranch faired after the New Year's Eve flood.
Though some trails and irrigation systems were damaged, overall
damage was minimal.
"I think all of us were relieved and quite happy," Baca said.
"It's really exciting to see how well the ranch did."
This summer, a major component of the $7 million project is
scheduled to start when workers begin to restore natural flow to a
river channel straightened by the government in an early 1960s
Though well intentioned, that project brought widespread damage
to the river's ecosystem and led to the latest efforts to restore
the river to a natural condition.
The area's success surviving the most recent flood also bodes
well for future floods, said Naomi Duerr, manager of Washoe
County's $350 million project to control flooding along the river.
Restoration projects like the McCarran Ranch are an important
part of the overall flood control strategy, particularly downstream
of the Reno-Sparks urban area.
Even though the project is in its early stages, work already
completed seems to have helped reduce flood damage in the area,
"Restoration actually slows down the river and reduces damage
from flooding," Duerr said. "This shows the restoration efforts
are part and parcel of the flood project."
Continuing revegetation of the McCarran Ranch will be aided by
the tons of sediment deposited there by floodwaters, Baca said. The
sediment will help support future growth of trees and other plants.
"We got great sediment deposit," Baca said. "We're probably
one of the only property owners happy about that."