Success! Martis Fire Restoration Project Complete


In 2001, the Martis Fire burned more than 14,500 acres within the Truckee River Corridor between Reno and Truckee, straddling the state boundary.  The wildfire left the area devoid of native vegetation and adequate soil composition, which adversely affected the natural system’s ability to provide appropriate wildlife habitat and acceptable water quality for the Reno/Sparks communities.  Deforestation, erosion and the spread of noxious weeds were the result.  The need for a restoration project was identified in the 2005 Martis/Interstate 80 Corridor Landscape Assessment Strategy and in 2009, the Washoe County Department of Parks and Open Space successfully received funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (AARA).  Washoe County partnered with SBC to administer the 3-year Martis Fire Restoration Project on California’s upstream portion of the Truckee River Corridor.COMM GJblog2 2013 10 3

The Martis Fire Restoration Project had two overarching goals: to create local jobs and to reduce fire danger and improve ecosystem functions on previously burned open space. Restoration activities included noxious weed control, erosion control, and seeding and planting.  Treatments were intended to establish native shrub and herbaceous cover, reduce the risk of soil erosion into the Truckee River, and reduce the infestation of noxious weeds along the north and east facing slopes of the river corridor at the 5000 – 6000’ elevation zone – identified as critical winter range for the Truckee-Loyalton deer herd.

Native shrub and herbaceous cover seed were deposited on 328 acres via helicopter aerial seeding in April of 2012.  Native pure live seed (PLS), applied at 16 lbs/acre, was procured from Comstock Seed, a local company in Gardnerville, Nevada for this project. The seed mixture included four grasses (bluegrass, squirreltail, wild rye, and wheatgrass), five flowering plants (penstemon, buckwheat, lupine, yarrow, and arrowleaf balsamroot), and three shrubs (bitterbrush, sagebrush, and mountain mahogany).  The seed was deposited atop a fresh layer of late-winter snow.

Willow wattles and live stakes, harvested from the Arrowcreek Fire Restoration area in Reno, were installed immediately upstream form the fire perimeter at the Boca Reservoir outfall along the southern bank of the Truckee River.   A total of 184 linear feet of willow wattles and 225 feet of live stakes were harvested and installed for erosion control.  Noxious weeds, including yellow starthistle, tall whitetop, and musk thistle were removed through chemical and mechanical applications on 72 acres within the river corridor.   

This project has been successful in employing a large number of local individuals across a broad array of professions and specializations including consultants, local nursery employees, seed collectors, local aviation resources, planting and weeds management field crews, project administrators, and county personnel. 

Sierra Business Council is grateful for the cooperation and partnerships we have created through this project.  Gratitude and thanks go to our project partners at Soil-Tech, our grant administrators at Washoe County, and to our internal project management staff who works hard daily to fulfill upon the values and mission of our organization.  We are proud to engage with our local stakeholders and continue our role throughout the region as professional stewards and program implementers.