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Martis Wildlife Area Trails Need Restoration

TitleMartis Wildlife Area Trails Need Restoration
Author/CreatorCobourn, John; Purdy, Shelly; Segale, Heather M.
Related item(s)Press Release available at
Date Original2005-09-12
Summary/DescriptionLake Tahoe Report Segment #134 - "Martis Wilidlife Area Trails Need Restoration" (Air Date: September 12, 2005).
SubjectMartis Valley (Calif.)
LocationLake Tahoe (Calif. and Nev.)
Tahoe, Lake (Calif and Nev)
CollectionThe Lake Tahoe Report
Original PublisherLake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition (
Electronic PublisherUniversity of Nevada, Reno - Department of Teaching and Learning Technologies
Ordering and Permissions InformationFor more information, contact the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, or 775-832-4138.
Date Digital2006-02-15
RelationWindows Media Player
Resource TypeMoving Image
Contributing InstitutionUniversity of Nevada, Reno
TranscriptionSegment 134 - The popular trails in Martis Valley, near Truckee, are in danger of being "loved to death." To help protect them, a coalition of groups have obtained funding to rebuild some sections of the trail away from the creek banks, to construct a boardwalk through a delicate wetland, and to establish native plants along eroding banks. The Martis Creek Trail was never properly constructed. It began as a cattle trail and was converted through use to a hiking trail. It runs through a wetland and along the banks of Martis Creek. Because of overuse, sections of the trail have literally fallen into the creek, increasing sediment and decreasing water quality. Excess sediment can cause significant harm to aquatic life. Gills of fish and aquatic invertebrates become clogged, making it difficult for them to survive in the stream. Sediment can also cover important streambed habitat. Suspended sediment in the water column helps raise the water temperature and leads to lower levels of dissolved oxygen. Species that need high concentrations of dissolved oxygen, such as mayfly nymphs, stonefly nymphs, caddisfly larvae, and trout will move out or die if the dissolved oxygen levels drop too low. Prior to heavy use by people and dogs, Martis Creek provided excellent habitat for breeding birds. In general, riparian and wetland areas are critical habitat for Sierra birds. Protecting the riparian and wetland vegetation along Martis Creek will aid bird populations. In 2003, the Truckee River Watershed Council and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) developed a plan to preserve public access to the Martis Creek area, while protecting the natural resources there. The restoration work includes rerouting portions of the trail away from stream banks, restructuring and rebuilding portions of the trail, and stabilizing stream banks through revegetation. The Northstar Community Service District recently agreed to join the partnership and assist with upcoming work at Martis Wildlife Area. Restoration and rerouting of the main Martis Creek Trail (Phase I) began in 2004 and will be completed in fall 2005. The construction of the boardwalk on the Tompkins Memorial Trail (Phase II) will take place during fall 2005, pending funding. Phase III is slated to begin in 2007. Organizers anticipate that the majority of the work on Phases I and II will occur on Oct. 16, Truckee River Day 2005, with some of the boardwalk construction taking place ahead of time. Construction of the boardwalk is critical for overall project success. Part of the restoration strategy for of Martis Creek is to direct visitors away from the wetter Martis Creek Trail during the spring, when trails are muddy and revegetation work is most susceptible to damage. The current best alternative is using the Tompkins Memorial Trail, but this is also causing wetland damage. However, the good news is that the problems on the Tompkins Memorial Trail can be easily fixed by constructing approximately 400 feet of boardwalk to keep hikers and bicyclists out of the wet area on the trail. Changing behavior of visitors to the Martis Wildlife Area is also critical for success of the project. Therefore, public outreach and education is a significant part of the restoration plan. Signs will be developed to encourage visitors to use the new trail segments and to direct users to trails other than the Martis Creek Trail during the muddy season. At this time of year, hikers can enjoy the Martis Creek Trail with relatively low impact. From Tahoe, drive north on California State Route 267. When you have gone almost 9 miles, you will see a sign for the Martis Wildlife Viewing Area trail head on the left. You can help protect Martis Creek in several ways. Use the newly constructed trails and avoid the restored areas of the old trails. Consider walking on other trails during the muddy season when the Martis Creek Trail is most susceptible to damage. Clean up after your dogs, since excess nutrients from pet waste can impair water quality. Bags and trash receptacles are provided by the U.S. Army Corps. The organizations working on this restoration project need volunteer help to complete Phases I and II this fall. Call Jacqui Zink, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, (530) 587-8113, to sign up for work on National Public Lands Day, Sept. 25. You can also preregister to work on this or other restoration projects on Oct. 16, the Tenth Anniversary Truckee River Day. Call (530) 550-8760 or visit for more information.

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