In late September, GBI staff came together to make progress on the Galena Creek Restoration Project, started in Fall 2019. This project has been generously funded by the Truckee River Fund, a local grant program in Northern Nevada. The project was originally meant to bring schoolchildren and community members to the park to restore areas of the creek that have been damaged by human recreation, demonstrating and teaching methods of restoration, as well as environmental stewardship. Because of COVID-19, Galena Creek Visitor Center and GBI staff decided not to hold community events around the project. Instead, members of the Nevada Conservation Corps, staff and AmeriCorps members from the Galena Creek Visitor Center, and GBI staff worked on the project and developed digital resources for the public.
The first step in this project was to choose and prepare sites to be replanted. The Galena Creek area welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year, and many of those visitors want to wade or play in the creek. Because of this, there are several areas along the creek where plants have not been able to survive and erosion is very pronounced along the banks. GBI staff and NCC members chose two areas that were in need of immediate attention, in addition to the area that was restored last fall. The NCC crew members prepared the sites by digging trenches to plant the willows and other native plants, as well as removing debris and creating buffers to prevent erosion while the new plants establish.
The Down and Dirty on Willow Propagation
Willows are one of the primary riparian plants along Galena Creek and are relatively easy to propagate and plant. Propagation is the process of removing limbs from an established plant and planting them somewhere else to grow into a new plant. House plant enthusiasts will be familiar with this process. For willows, you remove relatively large branches, soak them in water for 1-14 days, and then plant them. The Galena Creek team used a “willow wattle” system, creating a bundle, or wattle, of willows that they buried in the ground with a few stems coming out from the ground. The wattle has multiple functions; it provides a defense against erosion while the stems are establishing, it holds the stems in place so they aren’t washed away in storms, and willows are also able to resprout from the wattle. Once the wattle and stems have soaked, they are planted in trenches near the water. The GBI team planted several wattles at the three restoration sites to begin the process of erosion control.
Educational Resources and Citizen Science
Because the Truckee River Fund grant for this project incorporated a large community involvement and education component, the Galena Creek Visitor Center has been working on creating digital resources and citizen science projects to engage the community in creek restoration and monitoring. The process of this restoration project was recorded along with interviews with those involved, and this footage is being turned into an educational video for the public. Through social media, YouTube videos, and website resources, the Galena Creek Visitor Center has been educating the public about the importance of riparian and aquatic ecosystems, watershed health, and watershed stewardship. In addition, two citizen science projects are being developed, one to help monitor growth of the willows planted and the other to identify aquatic macroinvertebrates in the creek. These projects will further engage the public and allow for safe ways to get involved in the Galena Creek Restoration Project.
To stay updated on this project, follow Galena Creek Visitor Center on social media platforms like Instagram (@galenacreek) and Facebook (Galena Creek Visitor Center) and sign up for the Galena Creek Visitor Center monthly newsletter by following this link: https://www.galenacreekvisitorcenter.org/newsletter.html