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Carson River wins designation

by Merrie Leininger

The Carson River has been designated as one of 12 rivers named a National Restoration Demonstration Watershed.

The Western Nevada Resource Conservation Development Council, which was only one of the many agencies involved in rebuilding the river after the New Years 1997 flood, applied for the designation.

Dick Mirgon, director of Douglas County Emergency Management, worked to organize the work done in Douglas County.

“I think it’s a great honor. A lot of people put a lot of work into this river. It just shows what we can do when we work together” Mirgon said.

Mirgon said the work would not have been possible without both the many government agencies and the volunteers who did much of the labor on the river.

“It clearly was a combination. Some things that were not supported by agencies were supported by volunteer labor,” he said.

More than 2,500 volunteers and agencies donated in excess of 12,000 hours of work to restore the river since the flood. They have planted more than 10,000 willows, built fences, completed erosion control projects and released trout by the thousands. The Nevada Conservation Districts, the development council and county governments worked tirelessly with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service and others to help repair damage to the river from the flood of 1997.

Ed James of the Carson Water Subconservancy District said he personally worked on some of the volunteer river work days and explained what his agency does for the river.

“After the flood, we administrated the FEMA projects and provided funding and supported the river groups,” he said. “My family and I have also volunteered. It’s always a large group out there. It’s interesting when everyone comes together.”

James said there is still work to be done.

“We’re almost back to where it was before the flood, but there still is a lot of work that needs to be done to make it a healthy watershed,” James said. “We’re still working on future plans, but it’s great to get recognition.”

Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nevada, who has served as the honorary chairman of the Conserve the Carson River Workday, said the award was for the volunteers.

“This award was made possible by the hard work of thousands of Nevadans. It is efforts like these, by the Carson River volunteers, that make our communities better places to live and improve our environment for future generations,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Commerce under the Clean Water Action Plan asks federal agencies to designate 12 areas to showcase the real world application of innovative stream corridor restoration technologies.