Ducks Unlimited working on wetlands project in Carson City
Those backhoes visible from Buzzy’s Ranch and Carson River roads, working on Carson City open space land, are building berms not houses.
Ducks Unlimited, the 80 year-old waterfowl conservation organization, is conducting a wetlands enhancement project on about 125 acres there.
The work started Nov. 1 and should be completed in two weeks, said John Ranlett, regional biologist, intermountain west, Ducks Unlimited.
The property is being excavated to rebuild two washed-out berms and a swale that meanders across three pastures.
In addition, five new and five replaced water control structure flashboard risers are being installed as is a perimeter fence to better manage grazing of the site.
When that’s done, the berms and land will be revegetated.
All that will enable the three pastures to be irrigated separately, provide better drainage, and improve the wildlife habitat.
The area is home to Canada geese, yellow-headed black birds, ducks, marsh wren, white-faced ibis, sandhill cranes and Virginia rails.
“They’re a secretive marsh bird. They like to hide in the weeds, but you can hear them,” said Ranlett.
Mule deer, coyote and the occasional mountain lion roam there, too, said Ann Bollinger, open space administrator, Carson City Parks, Recreation and Open Space department.
The $250,000 project is one of 11 projects Ducks Unlimited is doing throughout the Carson and Walker river water basins.
It’s funded by a $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant made possible by a match from some funding the city got to acquire what’s now the Morgan Mill Preserve Open Space off Deer Run Road.
Design work started in late 2014 and took more than a year in part because Michael Andersen, who runs cattle there, was concerned he might lose grazing land.
“Once we worked through it with him he was in favor of the project,” said Ranlett.
The project went out to bid in July and was awarded to Coons Construction after 14 contractors visited the site and three to four bid on it, said Ranlett.
Before starting construction, cows were let on the site to help eat up the vegetation that was going to be removed anyway.
“You want to put dirt on bare dirt,” to build the berms, said Ranlett.
The total 455-acre property known as Buzzy’s Ranch was acquired by the city for open space in two separate purchases.
In 2007, 86 acres was bought from the Andersen Trust and in 2010 another 369 acres was purchased from James Jarrard.
As part of the purchase, the sellers retained the water rights and full access for ranching so the property is Carson City open space, but not open to the public.