Balance Hydrologics conducted the Bear Creek watershed assessment in 2017. A priority project identified in the assessment was restoration of the Bear Creek Lower Meadow. The creek is severely incised through one of the largest remaining meadows in the watershed with some of the largest remaining cottonwood trees. Stormwater generated from development in the watershed was identified by our assessment as the source of the degradation. Placer County is actively improving stormwater management and implementing stormwater best management practices in the coming months and years. The overall goals of the project include: (1) Restoration of channel and meadow functions; (2) Enhancement of meadow hydrology and habitat; (3) Reduction in sources of instream sediment from bank erosion; and (4) Protection of existing spring-fed tributaries that provide hydrologic support to meadow. In 2018, Balance developed 95% design plans for the project which includes a 0.5-mile reach of Bear Creek and natural features such as riffle augmentation and instream large wood jams to encourage aggradation of the channel and overbank flows. Balance conducted baseline monitoring as a future measurement for post-restoration conditions, performed supplemental surveys to augment existing LiDAR-based topography, and ran hydraulic models to evaluate the proposed projects effects on meadow hydrology and FEMA 100-year floodplain. Tahoe National Forest (land-owner) was integral in providing input and evaluating feasibility of alternatives. The project is planned for implementation in late 2020.
Bear Creek is unique in that it is one of few tributaries that provides cold, clean, spring-derived flows that support baseflow and aquatic habitat in Bear Creek and the Truckee River. Bear Creek is also a watershed with historical land-uses and impacts dating back to the late 1800s. Both legacy impacts and current land-uses have generated cumulative watershed-wide disturbances that have altered natural processes and ecosystem functions.