Just Add Water

Restoring the Truckee River for nature and people in Nevada

The Truckee River winds its way from high in the Eastern Sierra through California and Nevada, supporting a diversity of fish and wildlife along the way.

The river also provides fresh drinking water for communities like Reno and Sparks, and the restored floodplain offers spectacular places for recreation and protection from damaging floods.

But over the last 100 years, the lower Truckee had lost up to 90% of its forest and 70% of its bird population—and native fish had nearly disappeared.

The Nature Conservancy is working to reverse that negative trend via a large earth-moving effort along the river. The latest project is part of a program that has revitalized 10 miles of the Truckee River so far. 

Connecting two previously restored areas, the project covers roughly one mile of the Truckee River at McCarran Ranch Preserve near Reno.

Guided by Conservancy science, construction workers are reconnecting the river to its floodplain and using the "just add water" principle to jumpstart habitat recovery.

Dump trucks, excavators and other heavy equipment are moving an estimated 100,000 tons of dirt and rock to return natural functions to this stretch of the Truckee River.

We know projects like this work. This site from an earlier phase shows what much of the habitat along the river at McCarran Ranch Preserve looked like before restoration.

Here's the same site three years later. The weed-infested field has been transformed into a vibrant wetland.

"Build it and they will come," says Mickey Hazelwood, the project's director. He's right: wigeons and other birds, fish and wildlife are already returning.

And our restoration work doesn't stop at the floodplain. Riffles are also being added, and crews will remove weeds to help native plants and streamside habitat.

You can enjoy the diverse wildlife and natural beauty that's returning to the Truckee River, just minutes from downtown Reno. Plan your McCarran Ranch Preserve visit today.

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