During December and January, the Truckee Donner Summit region received two “atmospheric river” storms that dumped copious amounts of rain at all elevations, including rain on an existing snowpack. It was a near perfect storm for extensive flooding. Several creeks and rivers jumped their banks, as did the Truckee River in several places.
Land Trust staff monitored a number of properties and trails that see extensive public use. There will be clean-up and maintenance work this summer on many of the trails, including fixing some large washouts on the Old Stock Trail in Donner Summit Canyon, cutting away scores of downed trees and re-grading the trail heads. But, by and large, our staff is pleased with how the properties weathered the storms.
While flooding rains have destructive properties, they can also provide benefits to wildlife and habitat by beneficially altering stream courses. Here's how: Meadows are re-watered as the creeks jump their banks, scouring areas that had been clogged with sediment and depositing fertile sediment elsewhere. When we visit properties next summer it will be visiting a new landscape.
The meadow and watercourse restorations at Perazzo Meadows and Elizabethtown Meadows implemented by our partners the Truckee River Watershed Council, Truckee Tahoe Airport District, and the U.S. Forest Service fared well; it is quite a sight to see Middle Martis Creek flowing through Elizabethtown Meadows and Waddle Ranch Preserve once again.
With the scouring and deposition that has occurred we should be treated to a wetter meadow and a lot more wildflowers this summer!