RENO — A heavily used section of Bartley Ranch Regional Park’s trail system that was damaged during the Caughlin Fire in November is now back open to the public. The park’s western and southern ridges were heavily damaged when the fire swept through the park and much of the park’s popular trail system has remained closed for rehabilitation and for the safety of the public.
The Ranch Loop Trail, which connects Bartley Ranch to neighboring Anderson Park, was re-opened this weekend as fire restoration efforts continue at Bartley Ranch.
“This was an important step in our restoration efforts because the connection between Bartley Ranch and Anderson is very popular with joggers, walkers and equestrians,” District Ranger Colleen Wallace-Barnum said. “We appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation during the restoration, and we are very thankful for those who volunteered their time to help get this portion of trail open in a timely manner.”
District Ranger Wallace-Barnum said the trail system along the fire-damaged western slopes of the park (Quail Run Trail and Flume Trail) will remain closed for several more months for re-vegetation. Loss of vegetation and erosion have made these areas unstable and unsafe for public use. Keeping these areas closed will also help to protect natural resources during rehabilitation.
Staff and volunteers assembled temporary fencing within the park to help protect these areas while restoration continues.
Other restoration efforts completed within the park include:
• Last Chance Ditch Company cleared the Last Chance Ditch of debris and installed approximately 370 feet of wooden ties back over the concrete flume.
• Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF) crews cleared burned brush and trees along the Last Chance and Lake Ditches.
• Tree Tenders was contracted to remove 20 hazardous cottonwood trees.
• Washoe County maintenance staff removed approximately 80 ornamental shrubs and 25 ornamental trees that were damaged.
• Washoe County maintenance staff has removed and replaced nearly 500 feet of irrigation lines.
• The salvageable artifacts and historical items were removed, recorded and stored by Washoe County staff working with local historian and artist Loren Jahn.
• The interior of the Western Heritage Interpretive Center, Historic Huffaker Schoolhouse and the Brickhouse have all been treated and cleaned for smoke and ash damage.
• All 26.8 acres has been treated with a pre-emergent herbicide in an effort to control cheat grass and other noxious/invasive weeds from establishing.
• Concrete rails have been placed along the west side of Lakeshore through the windy hill area to catch falling debris.
• Staff completed the replacement of over 2000 feet of wire fencing.
Washoe County received approval from Nevada Department of Agriculture to reallocate $50,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding saved from other fire restorations projects for use in the restoration of Bartley Ranch Regional Park. Approximately $18,000 of the money has been used for the herbicide application and hazardous tree removal. The remaining funds will be combined with $20,000 that Nevada Land Conservancy has received for re-seeding and re-vegetation efforts this spring.
The Robert Z. Hawkins Foundation generously donated more than $7,000 to the restoration effort. Hawkins Foundation funds are being used to fund an irrigation and landscape design plan focusing on the area around the Robert Z. Hawkins Amphitheater, and to assist with herbicide treatment.
District Ranger Wallace-Barnum said that she anticipates the park will need additional volunteer help in the near future as efforts get underway to reseed the hillsides. For more information, contact Washoe County Regional Parks and Open Space Volunteer Coordinator Denise Evans at (775) 823-6525 or visit www.washoecountyparks.com.