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Lions Lake Improvement Project

The NCRCD viewed this project as a benefit to Nevada County Residents as well as to visitors from all over the word coming to visit the many year-round events of the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Extended maintenance is part of this project, to ensure that the area remains accessible to Nevada County residents.
The benefits of this new area within the park are education regarding forestry health, clearing invasive species, and pond protection as Nevada County residents and visitors are able to access this previously deteriorating area. The pond and spring restoration, culvert restoration, walking paths, wildlife habitat, erosion control, and other resource conservation issues: -Increase botanical diversity of native plants by removing competitive invasives -Improve wildlife habitat -Improve the forest stand through removal of dead and dying trees -Assist in stabilization, runoff, and erosion control around Lions lake -Increase the recreational value of Lions Lake
Partners included California Fish and Wildlife, Jerry Karnow (Consultant), Debbie Totoonchie (Consultant), Sierra Pacific Industries, Tim Robinson with Robinson Enterprises, Nevada Irrigation District (NIT), Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District (NSAQMD), and Nevada County Fairgrounds.
Removal of silt, sediment build-up, and decomposed vegetation matter was removed through mechanical excavation. There was removal of a few dead trees along with large amounts of invasive weeds and overgrown vegetation, but maintaining at least 50% of existing riparian habitat and willows. Rock walls were installed around the lake for bank stabilization and fish and wildlife habitat. Large natural boulders were place as habitat structures. The estimated volume of material removed is about 6,000 cubic yards. Straw wattles were placed along the adjoining severely eroded creeks and culverts were placed to help re-direct some of the runoff and rain flow while lake was draining and during pond cleanup.
To minimize further impact of silt flowing in from surrounding roads and pathways, we performed minor grading on the site and the existing culverts were replace, and one useless culvert was removed. The drainage ditch was reshaped to eliminate surface runoff and prevent road pollution from enter the lake. Two side-by-side culverts were placed and surrounded with new rock dissipaters placed for lake runoff.. Straw swales were contoured to lessen further erosion and straw wattles were placed along the severely eroded adjoining creek to help re-direct some of the rain flow. Walkways and surrounding park areas were restored with rock, decomposed granite and tanbark to beautify and restore the landscape around the lake. Large amounts of vegetation were removed to reveal the large walkway along the edge of the lake. It was graded and new rock and decomposed granite. Maintenance will be necessary to keep blackberries from reclaiming the space.
Many measure were taken to avoid disturbing the wildlife while removing sediment from the lake during and after construction. Over 6,000 cubic yards was hauled out of the lake and relocated to the southeast corner of the dirt parking lot near gate 4.Straw bales were used throughout the project to protect waterways from sediment flowing into waterways and protected areas. Pond turtles were visually monitored and given and “escape routhe” to easily moved to un-distrubed areas. Floating structures and logs were placed in the lake for turtle basking. Red Winged Black Bird and many species of geese remained active before and after construction. The working crew was conscious and considerate of working around bird activity to avoid disturbance.
The Next Phase
With the completion of the Lions Lake Improvement Project, the Nevada County Resource Conservation District assisted the Nevada County Fairgrounds in removing significant amounts of debris, sludge, algae, dead and dying trees and bushes, and debris clogged pipes entering and exiting the lake, increased and improved wildlife habitat, helped with erosion control and invasive species control, and helped promote a landscape surrounding the lake. The project was successful for many reasons, the project moved quickly, the lake is cleaner, and the waterways entering and exiting the lake are healthier. Although this first phase was completed successfully, there will be a second phase of the project to involve the community with installing park benches, shade structures, picnic tables, and signage to educate the community of the wildlife and vegetation habitat in and around the lake.