Trout Creek Restoration goes to council

City council will vote Tuesday on a key component of the Trout Creek restoration project.

Part of the $907 million dollar Environmental Improvement Plan, the project is designed to provide a natural filtration device to prevent nutrient-carrying sediment from detracting from the clarity of Lake Tahoe.

The project will in theory restore the Trout Creek Meadow and creek system, now an unbalanced ecosystem, to its original wetland form.

"We are doing a very intensive monitoring of this project," said City Engineer Brad Vidro.

The council will be voting to approve $42,680 in funding to hire Western Botanical Services Inc., the company that would monitor the change in vegetation after the meadow is restored to a natural wetland. Money for monitoring costs has already been approved through Tahoe Keys Mitigation Funds and a Bureau of Reclamation Grant. City council will have to approve the use of these funds.

The monitoring will encompass vegetation, fisheries, wildlife, water quality and ground water. Data collected from monitoring will be used by the scientific community to determine how effective projects like this are in preserving lake clarity.

"We're trying to restore the ecological system to a sustainable state," said Steve Kooyan associate civil engineer.

The project, now in phase two of three parts, will restore Trout Creek along its original path. This will allow the creek to flood the meadow more frequently and create a wetland, causing the current dry species of vegetation to recede and the wet species of vegetation to grow.

Phase two should be completed by October of 2000 and will provide a channel that is approximately two miles long, spanning between Pioneer Trail and Martin Ave.

The final phase of the project will be to reroute Trout Creek, at a point 500 feet downstream of Pioneer Trail, into the newly restored channel. Costing a total of $3.9 million, the project should be completed by October 2001.

The entire project is being funded by three sources: the Bureau of Reclamation, the Tahoe Keys Mitigation Fund and The Environmental Protection Agency.

The creek was rerouted about 300 feet east of its original position in the late 1800's, to provide dry land for a railroad that brought lumber to the silver mines in Virginia City during the Comstock period, Kooyman said.


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