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Keeping Highway 395 beautiful

by Linda Hiller, staff writer

The next time you drive from Minden to Carson City, look closely at the landscape on the west side of Highway 395 – you may see a tree angel out there, spreading a type of fairy dust called fertilizer.

These highway gardeners are members of the Carson Valley Reforestation and Beautification Foundation, a group that was born of fire and flood.

Nick Koropchak, whose foothill home backs up to land burned in the 1996 Autumn Hills fire – land that six months later suffered water erosion during the 1997 New Year’s flood – decided to take action. That spring, he contacted a few friends to help re-plant the hillsides, and the foundation grew out of that.

“After the Autumn Hills fire in 1996, and then the New Year’s Flood in 1997, Nick wanted some help planting trees and thought we should make a non-profit group,” said retired forester and group member Tom Whear. “So we planted trees twice a year on the Autumn Hills project, but then we wanted something to do the rest of the year. We picked up on the 395 project – Marsha Tomerlin had planted the trees to Cradlebaugh Bridge, so we called her, and she said she was done with it, so we just took over the care of the trees and the planting of new ones.”

Members of the Carson Valley Reforestation and Beautification Foundation are Nick Koropchak, retired physician; Jerry Noosinow, retired commercial airline pilot; Frank Tetz, retired from the Nevada Department of Transportation; Nancy Jackson, Minden attorney; Tom Whear retired forester and co-owner of Stor-All; and Suzy Stockdale, owner of Stockdale Creative Marketing and Advertising.

So far, the group has installed a pump in a well donated by Don Bently and shared on land owned by rancher Arnold Settelmeyer; installed a drip system for the trees and bushes; planted more trees and shrubs; and mulched all the plants. They also do weed and pest control on the 300 or so trees and bushes on the 3-1/2-mile stretch.

“My dream is to keep planting all the way from Muller to Cradlebaugh,” Koropchak said. “We want to make the drive up Highway 395 a grand entrance to Minden and Gardnerville.We’re just taking it a little bit at a time, though.”

Through the Smallwood Foundation, Stockdale awarded the group $3,000 this year.

“If I see a group making a difference, I’ll approach them,” she said. “This group was approved by the foundation’s five members and hopefully we’ll be their partner for years to come.”

The Carson Valley Reforestation and Beautification Foundation is getting ready for a fall planting and can use all the help that green-thumbed residents can offer – either planning or planting.

They have installed 10 plant “pods,” with lilacs, Russian sage, Russian olive, crabapple and other wildlife-friendly and proven plants around the point where Johnson Lane intersects with the highway and hope to do more.

Donations to the Carson Valley Reforestation and Beautification Foundation may be sent to: Nancy Jackson, 1591 Mono Ave., Minden, 89423.

For more information, call Koropchak at 782-5259.