News Releases

Wetlands Restoration Project Will Protect Nesting Areas

Nov 3, 1996

Sierra Pacific Power Company
Contact: Karl Walquist/Robert Sagan
Phone: (775)834-4345

For Immediate Release

Nesting areas for aquatic birds will be protected from coyotes and other predators following a wetlands restoration project that's under way at the south end of Honey Lake near Herlong. The project is funded by Sierra Pacific Power Company and the Tuscarora Gas Transmission Company. Improvements at a 30-acre pond in the Jay Dow Jr. Wetlands, a wildlife preserve owned by the University of Nevada, Reno, will help sustain surface water levels in the pond and groundwater levels in adjacent areas.

Over 140 species of birds have been identified at the wetlands, which is used as a living laboratory by biology and conservation students. The area also serves as headquarters for the Great Basin Shorebirds Initiative, a consortium of researchers from Canada, the United States and Mexico.

The wetlands is part of the Pacific Flyway, an air route followed by migratory birds that extends from Central America to Alaska. The precipitation that provides water supplies for the wetlands is supplemented by water pumped from three wells.

Man-made islands in the 13 ponds that comprise the 1,360-acre wetlands serve as nesting areas for aquatic birds, including American avocets, blacknecked stilts, longbilled curlew and the snowy plover, an endangered species in California. During the spring, thousands of birds take up residence in the wetlands.

Water has been leaking underground from the pond that's being restored, making it shallow enough for coyotes to invade the island nesting grounds, according to Shauna Adams, an environmental engineer with Sierra Pacific. Contractors are sealing the bottom of the pond to stop the leaks, and they will reconstruct islands damaged by erosion and rebuild a leaky dike.

The project is one of several that will satisfy California State and federal environmental mitigation requirements related to construction of the proposed Alturas Intertie Project and the already-completed Tuscarora Natural Gas Pipeline, Adams said.

Mitigation projects are designed to offset the environmental impacts of construction projects, such as Sierra Pacific Power's Alturas Intertie, a 345,000-volt electric transmission line to serve northern Nevada and northeastern California. Twice the amount of wetlands disturbed by construction of the Tuscarora and Alturas projects will be restored.

Total cost of the wetlands restoration project is approximately $100,000, which will be split proportionally between Sierra Pacific and Tuscarora. Of the total, $25,000 will be provided to the University of Nevada, Reno, to purchase equipment to maintain the wetlands.

Adams said the project should be completed by early November.