Hope Valley Meadow Restoration Project: Phase I Complete!

Scenic Hope Valley Meadow on the Upper West Carson River | Judy WickwireScenic Hope Valley Meadow on the Upper West Carson River | Judy Wickwire

This fall American Rivers orchestrated completion of the first phase of an effort to restore iconic Hope Valley Meadow. This 1600-acre meadow complex is one of the largest and most well-known in the Sierra. It is located just south of Lake Tahoe and is a popular recreation destination, as well as an integral ecological component of the West Fork Carson River, home to an important regional fishery and the drinking water supply for many communities in Western Nevada.

Although strikingly beautiful, historic grazing and other human impacts have created a deeply eroded stream channel throughout much of the meadow. Wet meadow plants that rely on shallow groundwater can no longer thrive at the water’s edge, creating high, bare banks that do not provide cover for fish or birds. Without this anchoring vegetation, these banks erode easily, continuing the cycle of erosion and soil loss, negatively affecting water quality.

Pre-project_William-SomerPost-Project_Julie-FairProject site before and after stabilization. Before: June 2006, the bank is bare and eroding. After: October 2015, logs were placed to stabilize the eroding bank and enhance aquatic habitat. Willows were planted to enhance stabilization and improve habitat. [click images to enlarge]

To address this problem, American Rivers led an effort to repair these streambanks and help the meadow recover. In October, we completed the first phase of this effort, in which we stabilized 130 feet of especially high, eroding streambank using a structure made of large logs. The structure will limit future erosion and provide habitat complexity for fish. Repair also included planting willows to help to re-establish vegetative cover that will provide shade and habitat for birds and further stabilize the bank. The remainder of the project, which will stabilize an additional 7000 feet of stream channel primarily using native vegetation, will be completed next summer.

The project is an important milestone for the local community who has been pushing for restoration for over 20 years. It has also been a highly collaborative effort which has surely contributed to its success with partners including the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Alpine Watershed Group, Friends of Hope Valley, Institute for Bird Populations, Trout Unlimited, and Waterways Consulting and funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, California Wildlife Conservation Board, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Bella Vista Foundation.

3 Responses to “Hope Valley Meadow Restoration Project: Phase I Complete!”

Mr Greer Hart, senior

I was very pleased to find that people in the USA were fighting to save part of the natural environment that are suffering from neglect and environmentally damaging practices.

This activity is taking place in the EU and the UK, but has taken much public campaigning due to the obstructions of developers. World widde, we all must support similar causes, as we are the voices of humane common sense.

Cathy Hodsdon

Having spent 20 summers in Hope Valley I am thrilled at the success of the restoration project. Thank you for all your hard work. My memories of the Carson River meandering through Hope Valley are with me forever.