Streambank project proves a success along Carson River |

Streambank project proves a success along Carson River

Jill Lufrano

A project engineered to stabilize the Carson River banks using willow and juniper materials at the Ambrose Natural Area is showing success.

The streambank that resulted after the river changed course during the 1997 flood was a vertical bank with no vegetation. The flood took away up to 40 feet of top ground cover. Sagebrush still grows up to the edge of the bank.

“Instead of trying to move the river, we decided to try to stabilize the bank so the river would be pleased where it’s at,” said Paul Pugsley, watershed coordinator for the Carson Valley Conservation District in Minden.

The project to stabilize the bank and allow the river to keep its changed course was completed in late 2002, Pugsley said.

“It was an opportunity to stabilize a long curve of about 400 feet in the (area),” Pugsley said. “We used some techniques that had not been tried before. After review last summer and recently, it appears and continues to be a great success.”

This week’s streak of springlike warm weather has started snow to melt and rivers to rise a little faster, but the time for testing streambank stability usually comes around the end of April.

Project workers used willows to create “stream deflectors,” Pugsley said. The deflectors moved the current away from the stream banks and into the center of the river. Junipers were anchored along the stretch to collect sediment out of the river and build up the bank.

The junipers were harvested from public lands, and willows were taken from Carson City property and locations along the river.

Two other streambank stabilization projects were funded last year for Riverview Park and Eagle Valley Creek areas.

Every year, the Carson Water Subconservancy District funds the planning and construction of water quality and habitat improvement projects along the Carson River. The funds are directed through the Carson Valley Conservation District.

The recent warm weather that is expected to continue through the end of the week is beginning to melt snow and cause the river to rise slightly. On Thursday, the river is expected to rise to 3.2 feet in the Carson City area and 4.3 feet in the Gardnerville area. Flood level for the river in Carson is 10 feet, said Gary Barbato, hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Reno.

“As long as the weather stays warm, it will creep up,” Barbato said.

Contact Jill Lufrano at or 881-1217.