Work on restoration of the section of the Upper Truckee River known as Sunset Stables Reach 5 could begin as soon as this summer following a decision by the U.S. Forest Service this week.
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson signed a decision notice on the four-year, $5.5 million project Tuesday.
The restoration effort still requires approval from the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. A 45-day appeal process is also expected to begin next week.
Barring any setbacks, erosion control work will begin this summer, with construction of a new river channel beginning in 2013.
The project includes the stretch of river northwest of Ponca Street to west of Muskwaki Drive near Lake Tahoe Airport and is designed to bring back natural functions to the flood plain and restore wildlife habitat while improving water quality. The Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act is funding the project through the Forest Service.
Fencing would be used to keep people out of the area while construction is under way, but the area's trail network will provide alternate routes, said Forest Service hydrologist Theresa Cody.
Two river crossings for the project could require rafters and kayakers to get out and walk around, but the start of the prime construction period in July is typically later then when people are looking to float the river, according to Cody.
"It's very unlikely rafting or kayaking would be affected," Cody said.
The second half of the Sunset Stables restoration project, on California Tahoe Conservancy land upstream from Reach 5, is still in search of funding.
Farther upstream, a restoration of the river through Lake Tahoe Golf Course is meandering through the court system. The Washoe Meadows Community group challenged the adequacy of the project's environmental document in November.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court.
Complete restoration of the Upper Truckee includes six projects crossing a variety of local, state, federal and private land. The projects are expected to cost a total of $50 million.
Additional information about the Reach 5 project is expected to be posted early next week at: tinyurl.com/Reach5