Volunteers help clean up Carson River | RecordCourier.com
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Volunteers help clean up Carson River

Linda Hiller, staff writer

Dozens of energetic volunteers lifted, dug, planted, drilled, ate and “walked the plank” Saturday during the sixth annual Conserve the Carson River Work Day.

“We ended up with 140 volunteers, and they all worked very hard,” said organizer Dan Kaffer of the Western Nevada Resource Conservation and Development Council and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. “We had Scouting groups, kids from Rite of Passage and China Spring and we even had a politician – Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick was there.”

Kaffer also said there were volunteers from fly fishing clubs and church groups, and he noted that more families helped this year.

“It was a good family activity for them – for a lot of kids, this is the first time they’ve ever planted a tree or a shrub,” he said. “We planted around 6,000 willows and 200 other species of shrubs and trees, including chokecherry, crab apple, silver buffalo berry and Fremont cottonwood. We also seeded the area with fescue, wheat grass and rye.”

n Brockliss Slough is site. Saturday’s work, aimed at adding to the riparian habitat along the river’s corridor, was on approximately 600 feet of the Brockliss Slough on the Sarman Ranch off Centerville Lane.

Paul Pugsley, watershed coordinator for the upper Carson River and one of the day’s organizers, explained the importance of that waterway to participants.

“The Brockliss Slough is a previous riverbed of the West Fork, and now actually carries the water of the West Fork of the Carson River,” he said. “It’s confusing for a lot of people, but it’s definitely an important waterway.”

Pugsley said the conservation project couldn’t have been done without the Sarmans.

“The landowner here has agreed to fence out his cattle to give this planting a chance to grow,” he told the volunteers Saturday. “We owe a big thanks to the Sarmans for participating in this.”

This was the first time work was done on the West Fork.

“The volunteers were awesome and the Sarmans really pitched in – it’s good to see what lengths private land owners will go in order to save the river habitat,” Kaffer said.

n Bats and ducks invited. Mike Sarman, fourth generation Carson Valley rancher, and his wife Melinda worked alongside volunteers all morning. The beam they installed as a temporary bridge to get people across the slough became a “walk the plank” scene for tiring youngsters.

Participants planted thousands of trees using a 3,000-year-old Chinese bioengineering technique using bundles of cuttings called “willow wattles.” Volunteers also installed six wood duck nesting boxes and four bat boxes on the west side of the slough to encourage wildlife to inhabit the site.

“I know of 15 species who will use these wood duck boxes even if the wood ducks don’t show up,” Kaffer said. “And the bat boxes are just great – Blake Hiller did a wonderful job building both the bat boxes and the wood duck boxes – I’m sure they’ll get used.”

Sponsors for the day were the the Carson Valley Conservation District, the Carson Water Subconservancy District, Western Nevada RC&D, providing monies and expertise. Sponsors also included Soroptomist International of Carson Valley and the Lion’s Club, who provided T-shirts, breakfast and lunch to volunteers.

Pugsley said participating in his first work day taught him to expect more from volunteers.

“Everything seemed to work so well,” he said. “We had a great group of volunteers and got a lot more accomplished in a day than I ever thought we would. I was just working hard to keep up with everybody.”