Snow Creek Restoration

Platinum Envision Award for Placer County Snow Creek Restoration Project

The Snow Creek Stream environment zone restoration in North Lake Tahoe, Placer County, Calif., has earned the Envision® Platinum award—the highest level attainable. Snow Creek is the second project to receive an ISI Envision rating.

Placer County Department of Public Works and CDM Smith, which provided project planning and design services, will accept the award from ISI Executive Director Bill Bertera at an award presentation in the spring. “This project received ISI Envision’s Platinum award because it exceeded expectations with sustainable features that accommodate community needs, goals, economic viability, plans and environmental issues,” explained Bertera. “It scored highly for its restoration of a brownfield site, historic wetlands, and the stream environment zone by removing fill and debris and reestablishing vegetation and wildlife habitat.”

“The Envision rating categories helped guide the project team in providing quality of life and natural world benefits, while also reducing risks to the new stormwater infrastructure and trails,” said Suzanne Wilkins, CDM Smith project planner and Envision Sustainability Professional.

“In addition, Envision served as an excellent resource for the project team in focusing on sustainable principles and practices important to Placer County and project stakeholders,” said CDM Smith Senior Vice President and Director of Sustainability, Tom Pedersen.

Placer County’s project was evaluated using the Envision project assessment, which was verified by a third party reviewer. “Project design components, such as using a recycled rail car for a bike trail bridge over sensitive areas and reuse of many materials onsite, helped the project attain the Envision Platinum award level,” added Placer County Senior Engineer and Project Manager, Kansas McGahan.

Additional project features that scored highly in the Envision structured credit categories include:

Quality of Life: The project will improve community mobility with the construction of a walking/biking trail that connects to existing trails and reduces dependency on car travel while restoring views and local character.

Leadership: During the design process, programs established stakeholder identification, engagement and involvement in project decision making. Design integrates several infrastructure networks, including the North Lake Tahoe trail system and local stormwater systems.

Resource Allocation: Construction of the project minimizes water use and protects water resources. Willow trees planted near the natural stormwater channel will provide shade for water temperature control, and the project will reduce sediments within stormwater, allowing more water to reach Snow Creek. Reducing sediments and unwanted phosphorus and nitrogen will improve Lake Tahoe’s water quality.

Natural World: The Snow Creek project scored highest in the natural world credit category because it protects wetlands and surface water, which buffers, enhances and restores wetlands and other water bodies. The project protects floodplain functions, and native plants including yarrow, mountain sagebrush and silver lupine have been selected to eliminate pesticide and fertilizer use—preventing surface and groundwater contamination, and controlling invasive species.

Climate and Risk: Snow Creek’s environmental zone restoration was designed to prepare for short-term hazards to increase resilience and long-term recovery prospects from natural and man-made short-term hazards, including wildfire, flooding, soil erosion and drought. The Envision sustainable infrastructure rating system is a comprehensive planning and design guide that helps infrastructure owners and designers meet sustainability goals and address projects’ lifecycle economic, social and economic aspects. This holistic tool can be used to guide decisions about investment of scarce resources and to address community and environmental priorities on all types of civil infrastructure.