Tahoe creeks and meadows look okay to me, so why are these projects necessary?
Although the creeks and meadows pursued by these projects may be aesthetically pleasing, they have in fact been dramatically altered and disturbed by past land use and direct physical manipulations. All restoration project locations have been closely examined by experts to determine the extent of impairment and the potential benefits that can be achieved by management actions. Watershed projects are necessary to significantly improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and other resource conditions by reducing streambank erosion, improving vegetation abundance and vigor, and re-establishing important natural processes. These projects have been highlighted in numerous regional planning documents as essential for restoring Lake Clarity and wildlife habitat quality.
Who pays for these projects?
Due to the nature and complexity of these projects it is common for individual projects to be funded by several different sources. Conservancy funds are typically used, and may be supplemented with funds from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, the United States Forest Service (Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act), the California State Water Board, the Wildlife Conservation Board, and other appropriate grant funds.
Does the Conservancy work with other Basin agencies on these projects?
All watershed projects utilize an extensive coordination effort involving other Basin agencies and various stakeholders. Technical Advisory Committees are formed early in the project development process so that funding agencies, permitting agencies, landowners, local jurisdictions and districts, and consulting experts can coordinate and collaborate on all important aspects of the project.
Why does it seem as though some projects require such a long time to plan and construct?
Watershed restoration projects are typically quite complex and require many phases of development, design, and construction. It is common for the planning process to require several years to develop conceptual, preliminary, and construction level plans, as well as to complete the required pre-project surveys and extensive environmental analysis and documentation. Funding constraints due to ever-changing public funding availability may delay these processes at any time during the project’s development. Leveraging construction funding may also take several years once the planning process is complete.
How can the public participate in the projects?
Watershed projects typically require an environmental review process which includes an interactive public process with at least one public meeting. The public may also provide input at Conservancy board meetings which typically occur between four and six times per year. Members of the public who wish to provide comments or input for these projects are encouraged to contact the Conservancy or the Conservancy’s project manager to learn about public participation opportunities.
How do you know that these projects work?
Watershed projects are designed by leading experts highly educated and trained in geomorphology, hydrology, engineering, and vegetation and wildlife biology. The Conservancy collaborates with these experts, scientists from the Tahoe Center for Environmental Research, and other experienced project managers to produce the most effective and efficient projects possible. Past projects such as the Trout Creek Restoration, the Angora Creek Restorations, and the Lower West Side Restoration Project have all proven to be successful with significant resource benefits.