Lower Hoke Meadow & State of Donner Lake
Hoke Meadow formerly supported wet meadow habitat but has converted to upland shrub habitat. Riparian and meadow vegetation are confined to the banks of an incised stream channel, down cut approximately 4 – 10 feet below the meadow surface. The existing stream channel through Lower Hoke has been clearly manipulated: it lies on a high spot on the meadow, and several berms and levees have been constructed, likely to confine the stream to the artificial channel. Road construction, pipeline construction, and a buried fiber optic cable have all complicated the current alignment. The Lower Hoke Meadow project was identified through the Boca Watershed Assessment (USDA, 2020), a comprehensive analysis of the Boca sub-basin.
State of Donner Lake
Donner Lake is a critical resource in the Truckee River watershed, and the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) is the primary water rights owner. Donner provides water supply for northern Nevada and is particularly important as drought supply. Yet Donner Lake is listed as impaired by the U.S. EPA. Potential pollutant sources include roads, highways, the railroad, commercial and residential development, increased visitation, recreation, and reservoir management. Aquatic invasive species threaten the ecology, economy, and recreation at Donner Lake. Altered precipitation, fire regime, and excessive soil erosion threaten ecosystem resilience. Donner Lake consistently ranks as a high priority for TRWC and our stakeholders (TRWC, Donner Basin Assessment, 2016).
The proposed project advances the Fund’s Grant Priorities:
I. Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS). The project includes an assessment of invasive mysid shrimp, crayfish and Asian clam densities at Donner Lake.
II. Watershed Improvements. The Lower Hoke Meadow project is part of a larger ecosystem restoration effort to improve resiliency against wildfire, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat within the Boca watershed (USDA, 2020). The project will directly reduce erosion. Improved wetland function will help to filter nutrients. The State of Donner Lake will help identify and prioritize future watershed improvement projects.
IV. Re-forestation and re-vegetation. Meadow restoration is an effective tool to prevent impacts from drought. Hydrologically functional meadows stay moist throughout the summer months even during dry years (e.g. Balance, 2021). Additionally, functional meadows can act as a fire break in the event of wildfire.
VI. Stewardship and environmental awareness. Lower Hoke Meadow includes a volunteer component – community members will assist with revegetation during TRWC’s annual Truckee River Day in October, 2023. Other project outreach activities include a site tour, project presentation, signage, and newsletter articles. The State of Donner Lake is a vital tool to present current conditions, identify areas of concern, and communicate priority actions to the public, stakeholders, and key decision-makers.
VII. Multiple objectives. This project meets several TRF objectives (1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8).
VIII. Leverage stakeholder assets and participation. Significant funding and in-kind support have already been provided for both the Lower Hoke Meadow and Donner Lake projects. A portion of the support is reflected in the match component of the budget.