This site encompasses the lower Truckee River, from the eastern edge of Sparks extending to, and including, the delta of
Pyramid Lake. The boundary includes the historic floodplain of the river. The site involves a mix of habitat types: older
gallery cottonwood forest, early successional riparian, wetlands and wet meadow, desert riparian shrubland, upland scrub,
agricultural and rural-urban lands, and noxious-weed dominated meadows. The land in the western part of the site is a
mix of private and publicly owned land. The land in the northern extension of the Truckee River includes mostly tribal
lands of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.
Several PIF priority species occur within the site regularly during breeding season: American White Pelican, Swainson’s hawk, bank swallow, western bluebird, yellow-breasted chat; several other species occur within the site during fall migration: orange-crowned warbler, MacGillivray’s warbler, Wilson’s warbler (GBBO 2006.) The sites is of particular significance to pelicans, as a foraging area, and to riparian landbirds that depend on multi-aged, species-rich riparian vegetation.
The site includes the Pyramid Lake delta, which harbors significant shorebird populations, including Snowy Plover, American Avocet, and Black-necked Stilt. From Birds of the Lower Truckee River, 2006, “migration banding data show that the Truckee River…supports a great variety of transient populations of migrants.” Specifically, Orange-crowned Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, MacGillivray’s Warblers and Yellow Warblers have been captured in high numbers during banding efforts between 1998 and 2004.
Hydrologic changes have been among the most serious issues facing the habitat along the lower Truckee River. Diversion of water from the river for agricultural and municipal use and straightening of the river channel have led to a host of effects including lowering of the groundwater table and subsequent die-off of riparian forest. A number of partners are currently evaluating and implementing projects to reverse these actions and their effects. The Nature Conservancy and its partners are planning and implementing restoration efforts involving channel restructuring and revegetation, and the Truckee River Flood Management Project and the Corps of Engineers are evaluating the possible removal of diversion structures.
Perennial pepperweed, a highly invasive non-native plant, has developed large monocultures along the Truckee River corridor and displaced native vegetation.