Balance Hydrologics led a multi-disciplinary group to serve as the consulting team to Truckee River Watershed Council (TRWC) and Tahoe Donner Land Trust (TDLT) to characterize watershed conditions and identify restoration and land management objectives for the Lacey Meadows watershed. The study aimed to identify areas that are functioning well and inventory areas that are degraded or impaired. Furthermore, the study set out to characterize existing biologic habitat and hydrologic and geologic processes in the watershed to facilitate particular conditions and sites where restoration opportunities or management actions could be prescribed.
We began by assisting the TDLT with identification of issues, which included conifer encroachment into meadows, grazing impacts, erosion from road building and maintenance, and Webber Lake dam operations. We reviewed geology and soils maps and historical and false-color infrared aerial photographs to relate our field observations to watershed geology or past disturbances. We managed a biological resources team which evaluated meadow conditions, vegetation, wildlife and aquatic habitat, including effects of past and current land-use practices. Using a combination of GIS-based analysis and field reconnaissance, we identified sensitive resources and the physical and biological processes that support them, plus we described disturbances and impacts to these processes. From this assessment, a catalog of restoration and management actions to address disturbances were developed. In addition to identifying potential projects, the catalog outlines relative ecological, cost-effectiveness, and feasibility of implementing each project.
Balance has been retained to develop engineering design for the restoration of both Upper and Lower Lacey Meadows and begin a hydrologic baseline monitoring program which includes both surface waters of Lacey Creek and groundwater conditions in the meadows. Design implementation is expected in 2021 or 2022.