Senator Bryan inspects Carson River work on Washoe Tribe land

Huge cottonwood trees in clumps of three or four dot the Carson River along a mile and a half of Washoe Tribe land just west of Highway 395.

Some of the trees now stand within the river bed after floods washed away sections of bank. These trees, and even those that still have a bank, could get torn away the next time flood waters race down the Carson, said Marie Barry, a Washoe Tribe wildlife biologist.

"That's what the (birds) use for nesting," Barry said.

A segment of river called Mallard Bend hosts at least six bald eagles along with blue heron, California quail, several raptor species, and peregrine falcons.

Barry is part of a network of some 30 organizations that have taken part in dozens of projects to restore riverbanks and reclaim many acres of ranch and farm land lost in the New Year's Flood of 1997.

These include the Western Nevada Resource Conservation and Development Inc., the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Carson Water Subconservancy District and each of the counties on the Carson River.

People from many of these organizations on Wednesday stopped by Mallard Bend to join Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., on his annual inspection of Carson River restoration work, which has become a ritual for the senator each of the last five years.

Bryan also saw work at the confluence of Cottonwood Creek and the East Fork of the Carson River and he visited the Byington Ranch, a candidate for open space protection in Carson Valley.

Bryan will see more river work Friday in Dayton. Bryan secured $5 million for river work this year.

"This is my fifth and final tour to see what can occur with this extraordinary cooperative effort," Bryan said. "Unlike other river systems in this state which have become subjects of contention, here there is a base of committed support. People working together can solve problems and get results."

The Washoe Tribe is about halfway through restoration work at Mallard Bend that includes streambed revegetation, bank stabilizations, fencing and reestablishing native plants, Washoe Tribe Chairman Brian Wallace said.

"We have a tremendous responsibility to take care of the river corridor," Wallace said. "Our goals here are very old. Our major objective is the cultural and biological repatriation of the Washoe lands."

River restoration in five counties in five years has tackled only about 25 percent of the identified projects to create an ideal river bed.

Now that river work has been completed in inhabited areas, the restoration effort could shift to more isolated spots.

"Banks falling in here cause trouble upstream and downstream," said Dan Kaffer, who is coordinating the restoration campaign. "Sedimentation from here becomes a problem for bridges downstream. We need to focus on these areas."

In the next year, about $20,000 worth of willow trees will be planted to help stabilize the banks and provide shelter for birds. Mallard Bend will also get a mile and a half of fencing on both banks to keep cows and coyotes from disturbing birds, Barry said.


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