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When The Floods Came, Not All Spelled Disaster For Truckee Area

© Simon Williams/The Nature Conservancy

Northern Nevada has had the wettest year on record.

Since January, four counties have been plagued with flooding and the
entire region has declared a disaster area.

Some, however, have actually been preparing for an even like this for years - even in the midst of a drought. When the water levels rose, it was a good day for the Nevada Nature Conservancy, who have been working on preserving the natural habitats of the Truckee River for years. 

Juan Palma, director of the Nevada Nature Conservancy, joined KNPR to talk about what sort of preparation had been done on the Truckee River, and about projects to conserve in the south. 

“We’ve being doing restoration work on the Truckee River for the better part of a decade,” Palma said.

The group partnered with several groups and the Bureau of Reclamation to return much of the Truckee River to its natural channel and most importantly its natural flood plain.

“When there was a flood like we’ve had in the last few months, that the water would overflow its banks but in an easier overflow… and be able to slow the current and then have its natural flow over that part of the Truckee River,” he said.

Besides keeping flood water out of homes and businesses, restoring rivers to a more meandering and natural channel brings in more vegetation, which draws in more wildlife.

“We want to be able to provide that habitat for wildlife, whether they live there like deer, or they’re simply passing through this is a great place for them to rest,” he said.

And returning rivers to a natural flow is helpful during a wet year like this one and a drought.

“Regardless of whether it is a flood year or drought year the vegetation will thrive and thereby the wildlife also reaps the benefits,” Palma said.

Juan Palma, director, Nevada Nature Conservancy 

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Prior to taking on the role of Broadcast Operations Manager in January 2021, Rachel was the senior producer of KNPR's State of Nevada program for 6 years. She helped compile newscasts and provided coverage for and about the people of Southern Nevada, as well as major events such as the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas strip, protests of racial injustice, elections and more. Rachel graduated with a bachelor's degree of journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University.