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PHOTOS: Ambassador program set to monitor forest health at Mt. Rose, Galena (updated)

By Ty O'Neil
Published: Last Updated on

With fire season here and outdoor recreation growing in the Mt. Rose area, a new program is focused on monitoring forest health and water quality.

The goal is to help keep the watershed in the Galena Forest area in a healthy condition.

Stephanie Morris, a water resources manager with the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, which funded the program, said, “What we know is that heavy recreational use can cause impacts to water supply. So people go off trails, and they cause erosion. That puts more sediment in water, and [it] impacts water treatment.” 

TMWA recently began running the Mt. Rose water treatment plant to provide extra water supply to the area. During times of high water flow it will treat and deliver water, allowing groundwater levels to recover. Previously Washoe County provided water delivery. 

While going off trails is an issue, another big concern is wildfires and their effect on the watershed. 

Morris said wildfires in Colorado have caused huge water supply issues. Ash can contaminate water and loose debris from wildfires can greatly reduce water quality by bringing sediment into the reservoirs. 

Algae blooms are also a possibility after wildfires. 

The TMWA program with the National Forest Foundation will fund training and employing an ambassador who will monitor the area as well as educate the community about water quality and fire impacts. 

The program is a pilot for this season. 

Update: This story has been updated to clarify the operation of the water treatment facility.

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