No more Cat tractors along Highway 267: Restoration of the Martis Wildlife Area is expected to be complete Oct. 15, per the Truckee River Watershed Council’s (TRWC) projected timeline.

The project, focused on restoring 70 acres of meadow and 2 miles of stream, will button up with revegetation and mulching erosion in the days following Oct. 15, but the construction aspect will be finished.

“For the most part we’ll have all the heavy lifting done,” said Allison Holmes, conservation assistant with the TRWC. “After that we will be doing water quality monitoring and vegetation monitoring for the next two years.”

The snag that held up the restoration efforts beginning July of this year was that the US Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the wildlife area, had concerns about one of the project roads being too close to a site rich in cultural and environmental resources. The worry took about three and a half weeks to remedy.

“We paused to revamp our original project design over there and make sure we do not encroach that cultural site at all, which we didn’t,” Holmes said.

After the brief hiatus, restoration resumed in addition to outreach. Docents representing the TRWC would roam trails and parking lots in the Martis Creek area, educating locals and visitors about the work being done. Holmes often filled the docent role.

“Most everyone I talked to was really pleased we were doing this project,” she said. “There were quite a few people that voiced they were very concerned and they were so glad we were doing this project. It is a place that locals use constantly.”

Though the public’s overall reaction was positive, some were surprised at the use of large equipment in the open space, assuming a developer was planning for housing or a golf course.

“It’s one of those things,” Holmes explained. “It looks great on paper and it’s the shock factor when it actually happens. Most people don’t associate restoration with heavy equipment … Once we talked to people and told them what was happening they were like, ‘Oh, I totally get it now.’”

Those participating in the TRWC’s Truckee River Day on Oct. 20 may have an opportunity to fine tune the wildlife area by helping out at one of the volunteer locations that will be on site, planting and performing other spot treatments.

Main Image Caption: NATURE RESTORED: Part of the 70-acre meadow restoration in the Martis Creek basin included creating gradual slopes in the floodplain, thus reducing erosion and sedimentation. Photo courtesy Allison Holmes/Truckee River Watershed Council