Volunteers can help plant trees along Carson River in Dayton
DAYTON – Attention on the Carson River next week will focus on a sweeping left bend about halfway between the mouth of Brunswick Canyon and the Dayton bridge.
The New Year’s Flood of 1997 sheared the right bank in half but extensive restoration work along the river in the past two years has yet to address this curve, said Kevin Piper, manager of the Dayton Valley Conservation District.
That is changing this month. The district started heavy-duty work to reinforce the right bank, and volunteer workers – mostly school children – will do their part Thursday at the Lyon County version of Conserve the Carson River Work Days.
Some 150 members of the River Wranglers and any adult volunteers who want to show up will plant several hundred willow and cottonwood trees on the riverbank. Some trees will be wrapped with chicken wire to prevent beavers from chewing them to the ground.
“We’re going to create some stability on this bank,” Piper said.
The eroded riverbank will not be rebuilt but rather reinforced as the flood erosion left it.
All fourth-grade students from Silver Springs Elementary School, a fourth-grade class from Sutro Elementary and two dozen botany, zoology and oceanography students from Dayton High School will take part in the work day, said Linda Conlin, coordinator of the River Wranglers.
The River Wranglers is an informal gathering of students and adult volunteers living along the Highway 50 and Carson River corridors who are committed to conserving, celebrating and exploring the river.
The most active component of the River Wranglers are the Silver Springs fourth graders. Once a month they monitor river water at Fort Churchill for water temperature, dissolved oxygen levels and turbidity, Conlin said.
“The kids have become aware of problems with sediments in the river,” Conlin said.
Dayton High students working with Conlin collect insects along the Carson River and study them in class. The high school students have built six wood duck boxes that will be placed along the river during the work day to provide a nesting area for ducks.
“A lot of trees that provided habitat for wood ducks are not here anymore,” Conlin said.
The volunteer work day is part of a $40,000 project to fortify 800 feet of the right bank as the river curves left. This location is a few hundred yards downstream from a right bend that suffered even more flood damage.
Just before these two bends is a section of the Carson River providing the first opportunity for the river to drop deposits picked up in Brunswick Canyon. During the 1997 flood, deposits somewhat dammed the river, causing the water to go through the left bank at the right bend.
This resulted in the loss of shoreline 70 feet deep. An abandoned house, broken in half, still shows the damage, even though earth fill restored the ground and pushed the river back to its original bed.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service did the fill work and lined the shore with huge boulders – call riprap – to keep the river from eating away shoreline in future floods.
The service’s emergency watershed program, however, did not address the river’s next curve. The Dayton Valley Conservation District chose this left curve as the first of five upcoming projects for bank stabilization, Piper said.
“We see where we can fill gaps,” Piper said. “This is still flood restoration work.”
As the river placidly flows through the bend, the damaged bank presents no problems. But when the water rises, the river could rip away more of the bank and continue straightahead onto farmland.
Before the volunteers arrive, Piper hopes to have the heavy-duty components in place. The primary feature is a set of nine stream bars extending from the bank at an upstream angle.
“They are designed to deflect flows away from the bank,” Piper said.
The last third of the curve will get riprap along the bank’s toe. Crews will also drill 400 to 500 cottonwood poles into the slope in the coming weeks.
Bank stabilization not only helps keep the river flowing in the right direction but it also reduces the sediment level, said Gary Juenger, the district’s wildlife biologist.
“If you stabilize the banks, you improve the water quality for fish and animals that drink at the river,” Juenger said.
Piper said the volunteer efforts could save the district some $2,000.
This project is funded by the state Division of Water Resources, Lyon County, the Carson Water Subconservancy District, the Carson-Truckee Water Subconservancy District, the Dayton Valley Conservation District and the Western Nevada Resource Conservation and Development Council.
What: Conserve the Carson River Work Day
When: 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 18
Where: On the Carson River in Dayton
The mission: Plant trees on the riverbank
Who: Call Kevin Piper at 883-3525 or Linda Conlin at 577-2631 for directions to the rendezvous point