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River work accomplished by many hands

by Merrie Leininger

More than 80 people, organizations and government agencies involved in the continual effort to improve the Carson River in two states and five counties deserve recognition recently given for their work, said Dan Kaffer.

Kaffer, who works with one of those agencies, the Western Nevada Resource Conservation Development Council, applied for the National Restoration Demonstration Watershed award.

He said there have been more than 80 organizations and individuals involved in restoration of the 2.5 million acres of the watershed in the last 10 years.

First and foremost, Kaffer said, the farmers and ranchers along the river deserve recognition for their part.

“Private land owners have donated their private time, land and resources to improve the watershed. They have contributed a tremendous amount to make it a better place, not only for themselves, but for the whole community,” he said.

Kaffer also said political support from state Assemblymen Lynn Hettrick, R-Gardnerville, Joseph Dini, D-Yerington, and Sen. Lawrence Jacobsen, R-Minden, and from U.S. Sens. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., and Harry Reid, D-Nev., facilitated river repair throughout Nevada.

On Carson River workdays held for the past four years, 2,500 people have donated their time and energy to preserving the river, Kaffer said. River workdays include planting trees and wrapping them with fencing to protect them from beavers, releasing trout and putting up bat houses and wood duck houses.

“It’s not the money spent that is as important as the families behind it,” he said. “I feel blessed to live in a community like this were people from all walks of life support improving the condition of the Carson River watershed. When they put up a wood duck nest box or plant a tree, they become a part of the watershed and have ownership.”

Kaffer said it is a unique experience that everyone across five counties has come together to help the river.

“People have recognized water is the lifeblood in the high desert. If we don’t have healthy, clean water, we are destined to dry up ourselves,” he said.

Because of the continuing reality of flooding in communities close to the river, Kaffer said the people in those communities have to learn how to live with the river.

“The flood (of 1997) touched us all in a lot of ways. We have to look at where we are and understand it,” he said.

Kaffer said many of the agencies, businesses and groups which have made the Carson River work possible are the conservation districts of the Carson Valley, Alpine County, Dayton Valley and Lahontan Valley, and the county commissions of those communities, the Upper Carson River Group, the Middle Carson River CRP Group, the Lower Carson River Group and the Carson River Advisory Group, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, River Wranglers, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and Nevada Department of Forestry.