by Kathy Whitlow, Operations Manager

Even before hearing about the River-Friendly Landscaping program, Steve Ramos was concerned about his yard’s bare soil as well as snowmelt, runoff, and wind-driven erosion. After mulching much of the yard, he wasn’t quite sure what to do with some of the steeper areas. Then he found the Truckee River Watershed Council’s River-Friendly Landscaping program. This program is offered in partnership with the Sierra Nevada Alliance.

“With his proximity to the headwaters of Alder Creek in Tahoe Donner,” Andy Otto, Director of Land Use Compatibility at the Watershed Council said, “and his love of this beautiful area, he really cares about doing his part to prevent pollution from erosion of his property.”

The Watershed Council sent a Conservation Assistant to Steve’s home to do a free site evaluation. The evaluation included recommendations for a more robust drip line system around his home, stabilizing slopes, and more mulching of soils. Steve explained that he relied on the expertise provided by the Watershed Council to achieve his goals of low maintenance, low impact, river-friendly landscaping. “Everyone was great to work with. It was a positive experience,” said Steve.

Homeowners are eligible to receive up to $1000 rebate for labor and materials until August 1, 2012. For implementation after August 1, the rebate drops to $400 until funds are exhausted.

“It was gratifying to learn even though I do not live on the Truckee River, I can make a difference,” said Steve. He has already recommended the program to others. “The process was easy. I can see what the protective measures are doing and how they’re working.” He hired a local landscaper to help with some of the larger rock, soil, and material movement. Overall, Steve is pleased with the completed work and plans to mulch each year, remove the invasive Bull Thistle, and spread native seed.

River Friendly Landscaping improves water quality by assisting residential property owners in voluntarily reducing or preventing soil erosion. It covers older and established neighborhoods in the Truckee River watershed within the Town of Truckee, Placer County, Nevada County, and Sierra County.

The program is completely voluntary. The Watershed Council provides free site evaluations, site plans, and resources for homeowners. Call or email Andy Otto at (530) 550-8760, ext. 3 or sign up online.

Funding for this project has been provided in full or in part through a State of California Proposition 50 grant, the State Water Resources Control Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Federal Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program (Clean Water Act Section 319).