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People try to save river

Andy Bourelle

“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand.”

These are the words stamped on the free T-shirts given to volunteers Saturday at Douglas County’s Conserve the Carson work day – as well as the motivation behind involving the community in the work.

“This is probably one of the best things a community can do to help a river system,” said Kevin Roukey, chief of the regional office for the Army Corps of Engineers, at the Carson River Saturday. “It’s great to be getting this kind of grass-roots support.”

About 140 people worked together Saturday morning on the rocky banks of the Carson River, helping to Conserve the Carson.

Working near the Lahonton Fish Hatchery south of Gardnerville, residents planted willow and cottonwood trees, wrapped existing trees in chicken wire for protection, released trout into the river, picked up trash and set up bat boxes to help cut down on the mosquito problem around the river.

This was the third year for the event, and Dan Kaffer, organizer for the project, said it was the largest turnout to date.

The Conserve the Carson project includes five counties which all have workdays to help care for the river. Kaffer said more than 2,000 people have worked on the river during the three years the project has been going on.

The area worked on was damaged badly by January’s flood, and much of Saturday’s work revolved around repairing some of the damage.

An important part in the repair process, according to Roukey, is watching how nature also works to repair the river.

“We’ve got to learn how to help keep the river healthy,” he said, “by observing areas that did resist the impact of the flood and mimic those in a man-made sense. Parts of the river that typically sustained the most damage had been manipulated by man.”

A significant amount of difficult work had been done at the site already, Roukey said, but the work day was important.

“There’s only so much you can do with a dozer,” he said. “Some of it has to be done with hand work – or Mother Nature’s work.”

Cora Hansen, chairman of the environmental committee for Soroptomis International of Carson Valley, had similar feelings.

“The river would do it all by itself,” she said. “We’re just trying help it.”

Hansen described the river work day as a great effort, not only because work was done but also because the project got the community involved and educated people.

For Valley resident Julie Fleischman, those were the reasons she and her family came out. Having moved here only three months ago, she said she saw the day as an opportuniy to get involved and to help her children learn.

“I think it’s great,” she said. “We’re thrilled to be here. We’re impressed with how many people came.”

Government agencies, community groups and residents joined forces for the work day. Helping with Conserve the Carson were a number of groups including the Kiwanis Club, USDA Service Center, Carson Valley Conservation District, Nevada Extension Service, Nevada Division of Forestry and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Soroptimist International of Carson Valley was the official sponsor.

Some of the poeple who came to work and support the effort included Boy Scouts from troops 145, 341, 369; Girl Scouts from troop 0004; Cub Scouts from packs 408, 409, 495; boys from China Spring; farmers and ranchers; members of the High Sierra Fly Casters; and members of the Washoe Tribe.