River Fork reopens after flooding | RecordCourier.com

River Fork reopens after flooding

by Amy Alonzo
aalonzo@recordcourier.com

After being closed most of January and February because of flood damage, River Fork Ranch in Genoa has reopened to the public.

The 805-acre working cattle ranch and nature preserve, owned by the Nature Conservancy, serves triple duty — the site also is home to some of the most accessible trails in the valley.

"Trails are a way to connect people with nature," said Duane Petite, Carson River project director. "Part of our purpose in opening this to the public is so people can create a personal connection with nature."

Because of January and February's flooding, the ranch, including the 2-mile West Fork Trail and the ¾-mile East Brockliss Slough Loop, were closed for roughly nine weeks. The ranch was opened on a limited basis Jan. 26-29 for Eagles and Ag and it reopened to the general public March 10.

Trails are open to hikers, bikers and runners, although dogs are not permitted.

Five major waterways are found on the property — the east and west Brockliss sloughs, Home Slough and the east and west forks of the Carson River. All of the waterways flooded during the storms. Two wooden boardwalks on the East Brockliss Slough Loop washed away, and portions of the trail are covered with flood debris.

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Trail work days are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the next three Saturdays, and volunteers of all ages and skill levels are encouraged to turn out.

Those who volunteer, or those who choose to visit at another time, will be treated to easy access to scenic views and wildlife. The ranch sits below Jobs Peak and is home to an array of wildlife including western pond turtles, bobcats, muskrats, beavers and mule deer. A family of bald eagles has made its home in a Fremont Cottonwood on the property.

The pond turtles like to sun themselves along the East Brockliss Slough, Petite said, and the deer hide their fawns in coyote willows along the West Fork of the Carson River.

In the summer, meadows on the property are covered with waist-high native grasses, and in mornings and evenings the skies are filled with harriers and barn owls searching for voles.

"Even though (Highway) 395 is over here and Foothill (Road) is over here, it's remarkably quiet when you're walking along," Petite said, pointing to the property's boundaries. "It's a place for people to connect with nature."