Soil-catching swaths cut into C Hill

Now covered in cheatgrass and little else, much of the land in west Carson City no longer has the deep-rooted vegetation that once held the hills in place.

While waiting for the land to regenerate from the Waterfall fire that left it bare last year, the city and the U.S. Forest Service are working on projects to keep homes and business on the west side of town safe from soil that is now free to flow downhill whenever there's a storm, including cutting a swath 20-feet or so wide into the side of C Hill.

Work began Monday cutting a path into the side of C Hill near its base. The cut will run about a half mile, just west of Curry Street and behind the Nevada State Railroad Museum.

The road-like path will catch debris and soil as it slides down the hill and direct it to specific places - the end of the path - where land managers can collect it. It will also act as a fire break should the incendiary cheatgrass that has taken over the hill ignite this summer.

Paths like this are needed now where they weren't before, said Carson City Engineer Robb Fellows, because of the absence of the kind of plants that would have soaked up water and held the dirt.

Water and debris flows down C Hill are expected to be at least five-fold what they are normally. "And they predict this will be for five years," Fellows said.

Soil experts predict water and debris flows in some areas hit by last year's wildfire will be as much as 15 times greater than normal.

"This is just one of those protective measures we've been able to do," Fellows said.

Other city projects to catch an expected slide of dirt from burned areas include a detention basin near the end of Vicee Canyon, which the city expanded 10,000 times its normal size to a gaping 150,000 acre-feet capacity.

Along with creating a debris-catch, the city and Forest Service are looking to close off roads that extend up C Hill, and cut it off to vehicle traffic altogether so plants have a chance to grow.

There will be a place for hikers who want to visit the massive flag atop the hill to park, off Curry Street near the Nevada State Railroad Museum, Fellows said.

n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at or 881-1217.


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