Revitalizing The Truckee River - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Revitalizing The Truckee River

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We certainly haven't had any flood worries for quite a while, but a big step was taken today to reduce the threat of future floods and bring some life back to the river. 

Everyone knows what the Truckee River is now, but no one alive remembers how wonderfully different it was. As Chris Sega of The Nature Conservancy told us, "It had vibrant fish populations. It had lots of riparian forests and Cottonwood forests adjacent to it."

It's hard to picture now, but 100 years ago the river was flush with hundreds of bird species and native fish like the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. There were so many, the Truckee's original name was the Salmon Trout River! Today there are some trees, but go back a century and you'd see 10 times the number you see today. The river was thriving…until man and nature changed the Truckee. As Sega told us, "We've had diversions for agriculture and municipal water use...flood projects that channelized the river."

But today, Greg and the rest of The Nature Conservancy…with some big bulldozer, excavator and grader help, are setting the clock back. They’re latest project close to USA Parkway is remaking another two-thirds of a river mile, adding to the 11 miles restored in the past ten years…and bringing back habitat to what fishermen call "the big Tricky River".

Alongside the river at the Tracy Reach in Storey County, they’re doing a  "mass evacuation." 300,000 tons of dirt and rock are being moved out, lowering the ground there by a big six feet so the river is free to run there if it has too…giving it a floodplain. The Nature Conservancy’s Martin Swinehart explained: "So let's say during a high water event or a flooding event in the spring, the water might overflow into this area."

The river there is also being narrowed for good flow to bring back trout. Alongside on the new ground, Cottonwood trees will be planted, and invasive plants replaced by native ones. The short trees you see there now were planted eight years ago. You can almost see the river…as how it used to be. Sega added, "And then when we're done, it’s lush...it’s green. There's shade in the summer and there are trees everywhere. It's just a peaceful place to be, experiencing nature. It's just immense and it's grand."

This project in Storey County is set to be finished in January. The Truckee River Restoration Project began 10 years ago, funded by the federal Bureau of Reclamation.

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