Lower Truckee River Project

Truckee River Restoration

Learn about the incredible restoration success along the Truckee River in this video from KTVN 2 News.

Watch Video

Restoration Before Your Eyes

Watch how our work has revitalized the Truckee River with this time-lapse video of one of the new wetlands!

Watch It Happen

Restoration is the process of putting back the natural processes that a healthy river needs to function.

The Truckee River is the lifeblood of the Truckee Meadows: It supports the area’s $20-billion economy; provides clean drinking water to 400,000 people and 7,000 businesses; and gives locals and visitors alike a place to get outside and connect with nature. Our revitalization of the Lower Truckee River is just one way we're protecting this vital resource for people and nature, along with our watershed protection effort and our work at Independence Lake Preserve.


Once a thriving, wild waterway with hundreds of bird species and 40-pound Lahontan cutthroat trout, the Lower Truckee had been highly degraded over the past century.  This stretch of river had lost approximately 90 percent of its forest and as much as 70 percent of its bird population from 1900 levels. The native fish had nearly disappeared. 

The Nature Conservancy took on the task of bringing back the Truckee River—for nature and for people—and all the hard work is paying off.  To see the beauty of the restored areas yourself, be sure to visit the McCarran Ranch Preserve for hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing and more. If you're looking for things to do or parks and natural areas to visit near Reno, McCarran Ranch Preserve is a must-see!  Click here for details>> 


In 2003, The Nature Conservancy launched its first pilot project to figure out how to fix the broken Truckee River. From that small first effort, the restoration project grew to include 11 miles of the Lower River at 5 different sites: McCarran Ranch Preserve, Lockwood, 102 Ranch, Mustang Ranch and the Tracy Reach (view a map). 

Guided by Conservancy science, a team of specialists designed plans carried out by construction workers who used dump trucks, excavators, and other heavy equipment to move an estimated 3 million tons of dirt and rock to return natural functions to this stretch of the Truckee River, especially lowering the incised banks of the river to reconnect it to its floodplain. They did it by:

  • Reshaping the river to give it new meanders that also helped reconnect it to the floodplain
  • Creating in-stream riffles to provide habitat for native fish like trout
  • Building wetlands along the river banks to provide habitat for birds, frogs, and other wildlife
  • Replacing invasive weeds with thriving native plants

The restoration work is not just good for the plants and animals that rely on the Truckee.  It provides amazing benefits to the people who use the river as well, including:

  • Water quality improvement as wetlands and native plants filter nutrients from the water
  • Flood attenuation as floodwaters spread out during high flows without doing damage elsewhere
  • Open space and recreation for kayakers, hikers, anglers, bikers, birdwatchers, and more (Plan your McCarran Ranch Preserve visit today>>)
  • Educational opportunities for local students and recreational users

"Build it and they will come," says Mickey Hazelwood, the project's director. He's right: The restoration efforts are showing incredible results. Birds including wigeons, willow flycatcher, and the western bluebird have been spotted at restored areas after being absent for decades. Trout and other native fish are using the restored river sections according to surveys by the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Weed-infested fields have been transformed into vibrant wetlands. In fact, tall whitetop—a tough invasive weed prevalent on the Truckee—has been reduced by about 95% in the first areas restored and has been significantly reduced throughout the restoration sites. 

The Truckee River Needs You

Restoring the Lower Truckee River was a community effort, and protecting it for the future will be too. We need your help to be sure you and other visitors can enjoy the diverse wildlife and natural beauty that's returning to the Truckee River just minutes from downtown Reno, now and in the future. Here's what you can do:

  • When you visit, help us keep the site clean, pack out your trash, and follow posted signage
  • Sign up to be a volunteer and lend a hand planting native plants, cleaning up trash, building trails and more
  • Donate to support our work in Nevada

Our partners on the Lower Truckee Restoration Project include:
City of Reno, City of Sparks, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Nevada Department of Wildlife, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Nevada Division of State Lands, Nevada Division of Water Resources, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Regional Water Planning Commission, Senator Harry Reid, Storey County, Truckee Meadows Flood Management Project, NV Energy, Washoe County, United States Army Corps of Engineers, United States Bureau of Land Management, United States Bureau of Reclamation, United States Fish and Wildlife Service. 


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