The lower Truckee River was once a remarkably productive ecosystem, teeming with migratory birds and a splendid fishery, including 40-pound Lahontan cutthroat trout. However, a century of man-made changes reduced this section of the Truckee to little more than a canal clogged with invasive weeds. Significant damage occurred as part of a 1960s flood control project when the channel was straightened and widened, cutting the river off from its floodplain. The result was a devastating loss of the cottonwood and willow riparian forest, native plants and shrubs, and large percentages of the migratory bird populations that relied on the Truckee.
The Nature Conservancy started restoration work on the lower Truckee River in 2002 at the McCarran Ranch to try and reverse the damages done and restore the Truckee to a winding, healthy river. Building on the success of the transformative restoration work done at McCarran Ranch, the Conservancy and its partners broadened their efforts, launching restoration construction at the 102 Ranch and Lockwood during the summer of 2008.
The benefits of restoration include:
- Water quality improvement
- Flood Attenuation
- Wildlife Habitat Enhancement
- Open Space and Recreation
The restoration program consists of re-creating the physical and biological conditions that are natural for the river. By giving the Truckee the tools that it needs to function as a natural river, the ecosystem can recover and provide for the animals - and people - that depend on it. The four key components of restoration are:
- Creating wetlands to restore the diversity of habitats that once existed
- Building riffles – in-stream rock structures – to improve conditions for fish and insects
- Constructing new meanders that allow the river to flow in a curved, natural pattern and reconnect the river to its floodplain
- Revegetating the landscape with native plants to restore the riparian forest and displace invasive weeds that have taken over many areas.
The 102 Ranch, owned by the Bureau of Land Management, is located about 20 miles downstream of Reno, NV on the Truckee River. The restoration at the 102 Ranch included:
- Several new river meanders
- 6 riffles
- 5 wetlands
- 115 acres of revegetation
The Lockwood property, owned by Washoe County, is located about 10 miles downstream of Reno, NV on the Truckee River. The restoration at Lockwood included:
- 1 new river meander
- 8 riffles
- 2 wetlands
- 28 acres of revegetation
The Lockwood restoration project also includes recreational elements such as a non-motorized, multi-use trailhead, on-site parking, restroom facilities, picnic tables, and interpretive signs.
Truckee River Flood Project
Washoe and Storey Counties
Cities of Reno and Sparks
Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Nevada Department of Wildlife
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe
Reno-Sparks Indian Colony
Picture morphing compilation video that shows the transformation of the Pilot Wetland during the restoration of the Truckee River.
See our work on a nine-year, eight-and-a-half-mile, $20 million restoration project to revitalize the river and its ecosystem in action.