Sign up now for Truckee River Day | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Sign up now for Truckee River Day

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Grab your gloves, shovels and boots and take family and friends to help restore the Truckee River. The 19th annual Truckee River Day is Sunday, Oct. 19. Volunteers may choose from half or full day restoration projects with different levels of difficulty. There will be 12-15 projects including restoration in Martis Valley near Elizabethtown Meadows, seeding and mulching at Prosser Lake, removing milfoil from the Truckee River, and revegetating a recently burned area near Boca Townsite. Projects start at 9 a.m. or 11 a.m. and finish between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. The River Fair will be from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Granite Flat Campground. This community event is presented in partnership with Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships. The fair features, environmental activities, live music and entertainment, local food offered by Red Truck and Northstar California and the annual fish release at 3 p.m. The Lahontan cutthroat trout release is fun for all ages. Please take a clean pail or bucket to carry the fish to the Truckee River. Granite Flat Campground on Highway 89 South, approximately 1 mile south of Truckee. Everyone is invited to the fair even if you're not involved in restoration projects. To participate in this year's restoration projects, visit http://www.TruckeeRiverWC.org. The deadline for registration is Friday, Oct. 10. Truckee River Day started in 1996, with 400 volunteers completing 10 projects. Since that first year thousands of volunteers have participated in dozens of restoration projects. A big shout out to this year's funders, including donors to the Truckee River Watershed Council, EpicPromise /Northstar California, and the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce. The Truckee River Watershed Council brings the community Together for the Truckee. It focuses on collaborative solutions for the protection, enhancement and restoration of the Truckee River watershed. Visit http://www.truckeeriverwc.org or all 530-550-8760 for information.

Tackling weeds in the Truckee River

The Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD) is pioneering a project on the Truckee River to control the aquatic invasive plant, Eurasian watermifoil, which has been growing prolifically since the late 1990s. Made possible by strong partnerships, this project follows other successful removal projects that have targeted aquatic invasive plants in Lake Tahoe, particularly in Emerald Bay. Eurasian watermilfoil is a non-native, aquatic plant that can spread easily between water bodies by a simple transport mechanism where plant fragments adhere to boats, trailers and other recreational and angling equipment. Eurasian watermilfoil likely entered the Truckee River following the overflow of the dam in 1997 and has been more prolific during the last five- to seven- years. "We are thrilled to see this project get on the ground", said Kim Boyd, Tahoe RCD District Manager, "We believe this project will be beneficial to local businesses and to those who enjoy the recreational opportunities on and around the Truckee River by enhancing the aesthetic value." In the past four years, the Tahoe RCD and partners, specifically California Department of Parks and Recreation and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency have developed highly effective control strategies for open water aquatic plant removal. Control strategies include laying down bottom barriers to kill the plants by eliminating light and using diver assisted hand removal to physically remove plants and roots. Often times, control includes the strategic deployment of both methods. For this project however, only diver assisted hand removal will be used. Permitting constraints and river flows are contributing factors to this decision. The project will be continually analyzed to ensure best possible strategy is used. In general, the Tahoe RCD and partnering agencies are optimistic that effective removal of aquatic invasive plant infestations in the Truckee River is obtainable. "The Truckee River is an integral part of the Tahoe watershed" Dan Shaw, Environmental Scientist with California Department of Parks and Recreation reflects on the project "with a comprehensive multi-year removal project there is hope to restore its historic beauty." Funding for this project has been provided by the Community Foundation of Western Nevada/Truckee River Fund, California Department of Parks and Recreation and the Tahoe Fund. For more information contact Nicole Cartwright at ncartwright@tahoercd.org. Visit http://www.tahoercd.org for more information on aquatic invasive species.

Golf course is the latest, but not the last, river restoration

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif.  – A controversial plan to restore a section of the Upper Truckee River and significantly alter Lake Tahoe Golf Course and Washoe Meadows State Park is just one of several projects planned for the lake’s largest tributary. Complete restoration of the Upper Truckee includes six projects that cross a patchwork of local, state, federal and private land. The projects are expected to cost about $50 million. The Upper Truckee River Restoration and Golf Course Reconfiguration Project is the latest project to reach the approval stage. The project’s environmental document is expected to come before the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Governing Board for consideration Dec. 15. The 15-member board heard a presentation on future restoration projects downstream from the golf course at their Wednesday meeting in Stateline. Patrick Wright, executive director of the California Tahoe Conservancy, told the board fixing historic damage to the river is the “largest and most important restoration project” in the Lake Tahoe Basin. An increase in the amount of fine sediment and nutrients entering Lake Tahoe has been linked to the lake’s clarity loss. The Upper Truckee River is the largest single source of the pollutants and its filtration ability has been degraded from a variety of sources. Comstock era logging, heavy grazing and development of the Tahoe Keys, Lake Tahoe Golf Course and Lake Tahoe Airport have all contributed to the river’s decline, according to a presentation by Adam Lewandowski, a senior planner with the TRPA. Each of the six river restoration projects presents its own challenges, from dog owners wanting access to the Upper Truckee Marsh, to operation of the Lake Tahoe Airport to finding a balance between recreation and preservation, Wright said. “We have conflicts on every single one of those reaches,” Wright said. “All of those interests are legitimate.” Whether landowners can afford to restore the river was questioned by Claire Fortier, South Lake Tahoe city councilwoman and TRPA governing board member. Fortier asked whether $50 million for river restoration was a worthwhile investment for jurisdictions that are under pressure from the Lake Tahoe Daily Maximum Load, a mandate to dramatically reduce the amount of fine sediment and nutrients entering Lake Tahoe. “I’m wondering where the justification for some of this comes from,” Fortier said. A hefty investment may only correct a small portion of the clarity problem, Fortier said. Stream channel erosion accounts for 4 percent of the fine sediment deposited into Lake Tahoe, while urban areas away from Lake Tahoe’s shoreline contribute 72 percent, according to the TMDL. But stream channel erosion is responsible for only a portion of the fine sediment carried by the Upper Truckee River, Lewandowski said. The river drains one third of the land in the Lake Tahoe Basin and a restored Upper Truckee will also filter pollutants that flow into the river from urban areas, Lewandowski said. But exactly how much fine sediment and nutrients from urban runoff that will be prevented from reaching the lake through river restoration has been “very hard to quantify,” Lewandowski said.

Guest View: Upper Truckee River needs attention from community

Decades of human alteration along the Upper Truckee River and throughout its watershed have left us with a poorly functioning river system that negatively impacts the health of Lake Tahoe. Intensive urban development and an extensive road network, loss of critical stream environment zones and wetlands, and straightening the river all have had detrimental effects on the river, the watershed and Lake Tahoe. Some of the more egregious insults to the river include dredging and filling one of the largest wetland areas in the Sierra to build Tahoe Keys and realigning the river to accommodate grazing, irrigation and the Lake Tahoe Airport before the days of environmental oversight. All these modifications have resulted in increased erosion; more urban runoff entering the river and lake; marginalized habitat for vegetation, fish and wildlife; and poor water quality. We all know that Lake Tahoe is losing clarity – at a rate of a little less than 1 foot per year – but did you know that the Upper Truckee River delivers more than half of the clarity-reducing fine sediment from stream-channel erosion that enters Lake Tahoe? The Upper Truckee River Watershed bears that dubious distinction along with that of being the largest of the Lake Tahoe Basin’s 63 watersheds. It is clear that the Upper Truckee River urgently needs a little TLC to rectify past and current land-use practices. Fortunately for the Upper Truckee River and Lake Tahoe, an intensive effort is under way to restore the river from its upper headwaters to where it enters the lake. Restoration projects are seeking to return the river to a more natural state by restoring the natural meanders in the river, re-establishing floodplains and replanting native vegetation. These measures have the potential to improve water quality by reducing erosion and allowing more nutrients and sediment to deposit onto the land before they enter the lake and cause it to lose clarity. A debate is occurring in our community and throughout the state about how to best manage urban stormwater – the murky water that results from precipitation washing over sediment-laden roads, lawns and forests. “Pump and treat” plants and other engineered water-treatment facilities have been touted as a possible solution to our lake clarity woes. They may be a “tool in the toolbox,” but they are relatively untested and expensive. The restoration of river systems, wetland areas and other naturally occurring water-filtration areas can offer a more cost-effective and immediate method of improving water quality. Restoration projects throughout the Upper Truckee River watershed are about more than water quality, however. These projects can provide benefits across a multitude of TRPA’s environmental thresholds, including improving fish, wildlife and vegetation habitat, and the scenic beauty of the area. Public knowledge of ecosystem restoration projects and public participation in the environmental review process are critical elements in the success of many projects but sometimes are lacking or delayed. Many of these projects will release environmental documents, such as Environmental Impact Statements, for public review and comment within the next year, giving our community a voice in the future of the watershed. The Upper Truckee River Watershed Stewardship Group, a forum for environmental education and discussion of watershed issues, is committed to working with project planners and citizens to increase community participation in projects affecting the watershed. The watershed group, in conjunction with local, state and federal agencies, and organizations, is sponsoring a public forum Wednesday evening at Lake Tahoe Community College focused on the Upper Truckee River Watershed. “A Walk Through the Watershed” is an open-house event and is a great way to learn about environmental conditions in the watershed, explore various restoration projects, learn the status of the Angora fire burn zone, learn how you can help your local environment by joining a citizen water-quality monitoring team, and get a picture of what’s happening in the Upper Truckee River watershed. – Sarah Curtis is coordinator for the Upper Truckee River Watershed Stewardship Group.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Comment on Upper Truckee River project

The public comment period for the Upper Truckee River Restoration/Golf Course Reconfiguration Project has been extended to Nov. 15. Please visit www. washoemeadowscommunity.org for a community perspective on the issue. I am opposed to Alternative 2, which is being “pushed” as the preferred alternative by the State Parks, TRPA and other involved agencies. I will hereby describe my opposition to Alternative 2. Please stand in the middle of Washoe Meadow, which is the site of the proposed nine holes of the expanded golf course. Slowly circle around, in order to take in the 360-degree view. Now, please close your eyes and stand in silence for three minutes. You may be astonished by the profundity of what you just experienced. The variation of wildlife sounds, the magnificence of this special spot. Washoe Meadows was deemed a State Park in 1984, in a matter of “highest priority.” The properties and reasons for that designation have not diminished. In fact, since the Angora fire, it is even more precious to wildlife and human visitor alike. There are alternatives for restoring the Upper Truckee River, without expanding the footprint of the golf course, and moving nine holes into this unique and sensitive area. I ask the State Parks and coordinating agencies to think with intelligence, as stewards of our precious environment, and with a respect for community input. Let’s wait for the new Environmental Impact Report, and perhaps together we can then create a viable new alternative. Please. Hillary Dembroff South Lake Tahoe

State Parks revises golf course plan

Only five holes of Lake Tahoe Golf Course would move across the Upper Truckee River under a new proposal for a California State Parks restoration project. The agency has released a revised map for the Upper Truckee River Restoration and Golf Course Reconfiguration Project. As many as nine holes would have moved across the river under previous design concepts put forward by State Parks. Moving five holes across the river “will reduce construction costs, while still allowing for major improvements to the river and floodplain, retention of an 18 holes golf course and increased opportunities for other recreation such as hiking, fishing and biking,” according to a statement from the agency. Litigation surrounding the approval of the project’s environmental document is still making its way through the court system. The Washoe Meadows Community Group, made up of park supporters and environmental groups, filed suit to block the project in November 2011. Allowing the golf course to encroach on State Parks land was one of the group’s concerns. Some golfers have also opposed the plan, saying moving any of the holes would take away from the playing experience at the course. State Parks scientists and architects developed the new plan following input from the group, the Washoe Tribe and people working to update the Meyers Community Plan. Moving some of the holes away from sensitive land near the river is a key component of the project, which would restore approximately a mile of river and reconnect the waterway with its former floodplain. “Presently, the incised and eroding Upper Truckee is a major source of sediment flowing into Lake Tahoe contributing to an increasing reduction of clarity in the lake,” according to the statement. Relocating the holes will also open up a corridor that could be used for recreation and river access. Details of the new access and recreational opportunities is expected to be determined during a public process in coordination with an update to the Meyers Community Plan. The next hearing in the court case surrounding the project, being heard in Alameda County Superior Court, is scheduled for Feb. 14.

River restoration project breaks ground

A three-year, nearly $8 million restoration of a city-owned section of the Upper Truckee River broke ground Thursday morning. Project proponents hope the restoration – in an area east of the Lake Tahoe Airport – will undo some of the historic damage to the river, including harm done when the river was diverted to a new channel as part of a runway expansion in 1968. “The deeper, wider and straighter channel has a greater capacity to transport sediment and provides poor aquatic habitat,” according to a project description from the California Tahoe Conservancy, which is providing most of the funding for the project. The Upper Truckee is the largest tributary to Lake Tahoe and is identified as a major source of clarity-reducing fine sediment by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. As part of the restoration project, an approximately 4,000-foot-long winding river channel will be constructed this summer to replace the relatively straight channel that exists today. About 43,000 cubic yards of fill also will be excavated to construct a 17-acre floodplain along the new channel. The Upper Truckee currently overflows its banks about once every three to five years, but with the new, lower floodplain, the river should overflow its banks every 1 1/2 to three years, said Jennifer Quickel, an assistant engineer with the city. The more frequent overflow will allow the floodplain to absorb more sediments and nutrients before they reach Lake Tahoe, Quickel said. But the project is about more than water quality, said Conservancy program analyst Scott Carroll. Fish habitat structures, the removal of barriers to fish movement and use of vegetation meeting habitat needs of species such as the willow flycatcher make the project a full “ecosystem restoration” rather than purely a water- quality project, Carroll said. Several challenges face the project, including maintaining compliance with Federal Aviation Administration rules, protecting a South Tahoe Public Utility District sewer pipe near the river and undertaking an extensive project in a relatively small area bordered by an airport, Carroll told representatives from the project’s more than a dozen partner agencies Thursday. Moving such a large amount of soil near an active river channel also raises the concern of sediment from construction getting into the river and degrading water quality. The contractor on the project – Kings Beach-based Burdick Excavating Inc. – is required to install a variety of best management practices to limit discharges to the river and provide monitoring reports to Lake Tahoe Basin regulatory agencies to make sure the project meets water-quality standards, Quickel said. Depending on the effectiveness of replanting efforts in 2009, the river could be diverted into the new channel by 2010 or 2011. Construction on the restoration project likely will occur between July and September during each of the next three or four summers, Quickel said. Four additional restoration projects along the lower seven miles of the Upper Truckee River are in various stages of development. “We’ve got a bunch of other projects coming down, and this is really just the start,” Carroll said.

Homeowners opportunity to contribute to water quality

If you live, own a business or have land near the South Shore and want to help preserve the clarity of Lake Tahoe, there is a good chance the Upper Truckee Focused Watershed Group wants your assistance. Federal money is available to help with watershed restoration projects, and the group wants residents and agencies to take advantage of it. Officials have come up with a draft plan of the Upper Truckee River Watershed Ecosystem Restoration Study, the first step in implementing restoration projects in the Upper Truckee River’s watershed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will help fund. “We’re at the very beginning of this project,” said Chris Adair, facilitator of the Upper Truckee Focused Watershed Group and associate water resource control engineer for the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. “I see this as a collaborative effort, and everyone’s going to have to be involved to make it work.” The project has three phases: Phase 1, an initial scoping to identify existing information and develop a framework for the next phases; Phase 2, preparation of a comprehensive, multi-agency action plan for restoring environmental resources; and, Phase 3, preparation for implementation of parts of the action plan. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will share the costs of projects identified in the plan. The federal agency will provide a 50-percent match to any planning costs, and half of the local match can come from in-kind services. The Army Corps also will provide a 65-percent match to project implementation, and all of that local match can come from in-kind services. “We want to encourage everyone in the watershed to get involved as we identify projects,” Adair said. “We can defer portions of the costs (of restoration projects) by having them identified in the plan. We really want people to come and get involved because it’s to their benefit.” The Upper Truckee River watershed, which includes Taylor Creek and its watershed, encompasses about 100 square miles, stretching from the southern shore of the lake south into Alpine County. Of the 63 tributaries to Lake Tahoe, the Upper Truckee River is the largest, providing about 30 percent of the annual flow of water into the lake. Tributaries of the river include Echo, Angora, Grass lakes and Big Meadows creeks. Trout Creek’s tributaries include Heavenly Valley, Cold and Saxon creeks. As a large in-flow source for the lake, the watershed also is a major source of sediment and erosion problems, which degrade the clarity of the lake. “Our focus is the restoration of this one area of the entire (Lake Tahoe) watershed that has been damaged due to past historical practices,” Adair said. “It’s a very focused project. We’re trying to get everyone to work together on this same thing.” Earlier this month, Lahontan’s governing board approved the expenditure of $100,000 for the project, to start the process of receiving matching funds. Adair said the watershed group is in the process of explaining the project to other stakeholders: Government agencies, home owners’ associations, private landowners and others. At the regular meeting of the South Tahoe Public Utility District today, a presentation about the project is scheduled at 4 p.m. For additional information about the Upper Truckee River Watershed Ecosystem Restoration Study, contact Chris Adair at (530) 542-5433 Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com Visitors Guide | News | Diversions | Marketplace | Weather | Community Copyright, tahoe.com. Materials contained within this site may not be used without permission. About tahoe.com…

Ceremony kicks off wetlands restoration

The California Tahoe Conservancy’s Upper Truckee River and Wetland Restoration Project is scheduled to kick off at the end of this month. The Conservancy plans to restore 11 acres of the Truckee Marsh out of the 23-acre Lower West Side, between Tahoe Keys Marina and the mouth of the Upper Truckee River to a more naturally functioning wetland habitat. The fill removal portion of the project must be completed by Oct. 15. Vegetation will be planted over the course of two years, according to Victor Insera, wildlife/stream restoration program assistant at the Conservancy. The existing trail along the river will remain in place for public use during construction. Another trail will be constructed just west of the restored wetland for future access to the beach. Conservancy officials expect the project to improve the natural aesthetics of the Lower West Side wetlands. “The restored Lower West Side wetlands will look like the wetlands to the east, with a mosaic of different textures and shades of green from rushes, reeds, sedges and willows,” Volume 2 of the Upper Truckee Update reads. “A low knoll built near the marina and sailing lagoon will provide an overview of the whole Truckee Marsh that is not currently available.” Anyone interested in learning more about the construction schedule, haul routes, traffic control, safety measures and contact persons involved with the Upper Truckee River and Wetland Restoration Project is encouraged to attend an informational open house Saturday, May 19, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the project site near the end of Venice Drive, adjacent to the Tahoe Keys Marina.

Town of Truckee relaunching West River redevelopment talks

TRUCKEE. Calif. — The town of Truckee is relaunching efforts to redevelop the old Nevada County Corp Yard property located at 10257 West River St. In 2011, town officials hosted several community workshops to hear from residents about what kind of project they'd like to see built, and came up with a couple possibilities. According to the town, one option was to use the space as open space, with a plaza and river access, as well as a restaurant. The second option was to utilize the same open space and restaurant concept, but instead of a plaza, it would include two-story, mixed-use buildings to be used for office space and retail. The problem was that at the time, no developer expressed serious interest in either project, which, according to town staff, was likely due to the poor economic conditions at the time. According to an email from town management analyst Hilary Hobbs, the modern-day economy of downtown Truckee is thriving, and there is significant developer interest in local projects. Therefore, she said, the timing is appropriate to relaunch this project. The town has scheduled a community workshop for Tuesday, Feb. 7, to reintroduce the project to the community, and plans to reissue a "Request for Interest" to developers later this year. The Feb. 7 meeting is scheduled for 5:30-7 p.m. at Truckee Town Hall, 10183 Truckee Airport Road, Truckee.