Truckee River Restoration Project

The Lower Truckee River originates in the Sierra Nevada and flows through public, private, and tribally owned lands, including 31 miles of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (PLPT) reservation, terminating in Pyramid Lake within the reservation. Once remarkably productive, a century of man-made changes have heavily degraded the river system, leaving it inundated with invasive weeds. Significant damage occurred as part of a 1960s flood control project, including river downcutting, depression of the groundwater table, and lowering of Pyramid Lake by as much as 81 vertical feet. By the 1970s, the river had lost roughly 90% of its forest canopy, 40% of its resident bird species, and had no resident Kooeyooe (also spelled Cui-ui) or Lahontan ... Show More

The Lower Truckee River originates in the Sierra Nevada and flows through public, private, and tribally owned lands, including 31 miles of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (PLPT) reservation, terminating in Pyramid Lake within the reservation. Once remarkably productive, a century of man-made changes have heavily degraded the river system, leaving it inundated with invasive weeds. Significant damage occurred as part of a 1960s flood control project, including river downcutting, depression of the groundwater table, and lowering of Pyramid Lake by as much as 81 vertical feet. By the 1970s, the river had lost roughly 90% of its forest canopy, 40% of its resident bird species, and had no resident Kooeyooe (also spelled Cui-ui) or Lahontan cutthroat trout. Since then, many policies have been initiated to restore the lower river, including the purchase and dedication of water rights to improve flows, changes in reservoir operations to support cottonwood recruitment and Kooeyooe spawning, and the removal of some barriers to fish passage. BLM, Reclamation, and FWS have partnered with the PLPT, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and at least 10 other federal, state, and local agencies on a wide variety of ambitious conservation, recovery, and restoration projects designed to achieve economic, cultural, environmental, and human health benefits in the Lower Truckee River.
 
In addition to their active fisheries recovery program, the PLPT is working to restore sections of the Lower Truckee within the reservation. The restoration work involves treating noxious weeds and replanting with native vegetation to help stabilize the river banks and reduce sediment loads. The selection of plant materials is made in consultation with tribal elders to ensure that plants with ethnobotanic values are accessible to all members of the tribe for traditional use and management. Some of this work has been funded by FWS, including a $200,000 grant announced in May 2011 for habitat restoration to promote reproductive success of the Kooeyooe below a nearby dam. 
 
Further upstream, TNC is implementing a phased approach to restoring natural channels and vegetation along the Lower Truckee River. The TNC Truckee River Project began with the purchase of the McCarran Ranch. Pilot work was implemented in 2003, and full restoration was started in 2006.  With the success of the McCarran Ranch restoration, TNC began partnering with public land managers to restore additional stretches of the river.  Work proceeded in 2008 with restoration at the Lockwood property owned by Washoe County. TNC also entered into an agreement with BLM in 2008 to allow TNC to restore approximately 408 acres of public land at the 102 Ranch and the Mustang Ranch. The premise of the restoration approach is that the biology of the river can recover only after the physical foundation especially the channel geometry and groundwater elevation has been returned to forms that approximate their original conditions. The supporting Environmental Assessment [1] describes the high restoration potential and habitat values of this effort, including benefits to several tribal interests from improved water quality and quantity, fisheries, and availability of traditional native plant species.
 
In 2006–2011, TNC reintroduced sinuosity into the river course, sloped the river banks, and planted the banks with native species. Monitoring of birds, fish, and vegetation is ongoing to help assure restoration success.  
 
Economic Impacts of Restoration. The restoration work at Lockwood and on the McCarran, 102, and Mustang ranches includes nearly nine river miles, 19 new wetlands, 13 new river meanders, 31 in-stream riffles, and 263 acres of revegetation.  Restoration expenditures have so far totaled $18.9 million ($2011) over the combined projects’ five-year duration, averaging $3.8 million spent annually (2006–2010). Much of the projects’ work–from initial design to major earthmoving to monitoring–was awarded to local contractors with TNC oversight. In addition to TNC, 12 firms worked on the Truckee River Project, nine of which were located within 60 miles of the river in Washoe, Storey, and Lyon Counties. Project expenditures directly accounted for 15 jobs in the local area each year and nearly $1.5 million annually in local labor income (salaries, wages, and benefits). Over 90% of the materials for the project were purchased from local suppliers, with over half of these expenditures going to purchase rocks and rip-rap from local mining and quarrying businesses and the remaining expenditures going toward construction supplies purchased at local retailers. More than 99% of all labor income went to employees living in the area who subsequently spent much of their income in local communities. The resulting spending by the suppliers and site workers accounted for an additional 22 jobs and an additional $1.2 million in local labor income per year. To date, the Truckee River Project has supported an average of over 37 jobs and $2.7 million in labor income to the local economy each year. These benefits will continue in future years, with projects being planned for two additional sites in the near future and other sites being evaluated for more restoration work.
 
Beyond these economic impacts, local communities are expected to benefit in the long-term from improved water quality as wetlands and native plants filter nutrients from the water; more flood attenuation as floodwaters spread out during high flows without doing damage elsewhere; added open space and recreation for kayakers, hikers, bikers, birdwatchers, and others; and enhanced educational opportunities for local students and recreational users.

This case study was first published in the FY2011 DOI Economic Contributions Report and is available at  https://www.fort.usgs.gov/sites/default/files/products/publications/23407/23407.pdf Show Less

Contact(s): Catherine M Cullinane Thomas, Christopher C Huber.

Overview

Project Period: 2006-2010

Location: Nevada

Restoration Type: In-stream restoration,River Rechanneling,Riparian restoration

Lead Agency: Bureau of Land Management (BLM),The Nature Conservancy

Economic Impacts
Western States Economic Impacts (2014 dollars):

Total Project Expenditures: $19,879,000


Job-Years: Not Available

Labor Income: Not Available

Value Added: Not Available

Economic Output: Not Available

Local Economic Impacts (2014 dollars):

Local Project Expenditures: $12,818,000

Percent of Project Expenditures Spent Locally: 64%

Local Job-Years: 185

Local Labor Income: $13,909,000

Local Value Added: Not Available

Local Economic Output: $30,059,000

Map
Images
Truckee - After Restoration.jpg
Sciencebase URL: https://www.sciencebase.gov/catalog/item/56aa63cce4b012c193aa3ffd
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