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Squaw ‘Friends’ receive conservation grant, Group aims to restore degraded stream

By Andrew Cristancho
Sierra Sun, acristancho@sierrasun.com
December 27, 2007

For more information regarding the efforts of the Friends of Squaw Creek, call Ed Heneveld at 583-1817. The group will be planning future workshops and meetings.

They are an informal group of residents and citizens that has organized to express concern about the health of Squaw Creek.

They like to ski and hike along the banks of the Truckee River tributary.

They are curious about the effects of well pumping on the creek and aquifer in Squaw Valley.

Some care so much for the stream’s aquatic life that they relocate trout into deeper pools as the stream dries up in the summer.

The Friends of Squaw Creek received a grant for $49,900 this month from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a California agency established in 2005 to allocate funding for environmental preservation.

The group will use the grant to create a strategy of how to “make it a better stream,” said Friends Chairman Ed Heneveld.

The strategic opportunity grant contains two elements, Heneveld said.

“We need to define the goal of our creek restoration efforts,” he said in a phone interview. “[And] try to get a handle on well pumping and aquifer interaction.”

Well pumping has been targeted by as a possible cause of the creek’s tendency to run dry in the summer and fall months.

A founding member of the Friends and a long-time Squaw resident, Pam Rocca believes three conditions are fouling and drying up the creek waters: The loss of snow storage because of tree cutting, well pumping for municipal and commercial use and the loss of many of the creek’s tributaries during past development in the valley.

The director of the Truckee River Watershed Council called the stream’s poor condition the result of previous decisions.

“From the perspective of a fishery, Squaw Creek is not a healthy fishery, and not a healthy [vegetated stream bed], we are seeing 100 years of land-use decisions,” said Executive Director Lisa Wallace of the watershed council.

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