Besides the havoc and damage our floods have caused, at least they provided the first real test for the Truckee River Restoration Project, a huge 14-year effort to bring nature back along 11 miles of the river. Chris Sega, the project manager for the Nature Conservancy, told us it was a massive undertaking: "It was pretty daunting at first when I started working here. The scale of it was very large."

We saw it for ourselves last year. We watched as bulldozers and excavators moved 100,000 tons of dirt, lowering the ground alongside the river between the Tracy Power Plant and USA Parkway east of Sparks. On days like these the river is full and active, only this time with a new floodplain. Come spring, the area alongside the river will all be muddy ground…perfect conditions to grow all the cottonwoods and thickets to bring back nature. Sega pointed out where the new forest will grow: "This area in here is where we've lowered the floodplain on the north side of the channel.”

For Sega, the first flood waters over the last few days gave all the answers he has wanted for 14 years since the project first began. "It functioned as expected. Yeah, it's good."

The work was finished a month ago, just in time for the storms. The new lowered floodplain is covered in water for the first time, working as it should. Preventing floods is not even the Nature Conservancy's prime objective. The group brings things back to nature. For the river, that meant returning it to its original design. As Sega told us, "We're going to create a surface here that will grow new riparian forests."

Come spring, they'll bring seeds out for when this is muddy ground. A thicket of cottonwoods and willows will then take over. Even that, he said, helps flood control: "The roots of the trees and things will anchor the floodplain and keep things from moving around too much down here." The trees will then bring back the birds and wildlife. The clock will be set back over 100 years there with water spreading naturally over land, nature's original flood control…all part of the plan.

There's more online on the Truckee River Restoration Project…what it costs, how to donate, the upcoming re-vegetation and more.

Click the link below: