The Clear Creek Watershed is an area of about 13.5 square miles located east of Lake Tahoe and south of Carson City. It begins in the Carson Range near Spooner Summit at 8,780 feet elevation and flows along Highway 50, through the Carson City Fairgrounds and Fuji Park, and into the Carson River at 4,639 feet elevation. Clear Creek is a tributary to the Carson River and flows year round.
• Clear Creek Watershed is culturally significant to the Washoe Tribe of California and Nevada.
• Clear Creek flows through Carson City and Douglas County.
• Nearly half of the land in the watershed is owned by the US Forest Service.
Washoe Tribe History
Tribal memory and archaeological studies show that the area surrounding Clear Creek was a major travel route for the Washoe between Daowdaga (Lake Tahoe) and the Carson Valley. For this reason, the watershed is very important to the Tribe both culturally and historically.
European Settler History—Logging/Agriculture, mid-1800’s
The mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe were logged extensively. A flume was built over Clear Creek to transport logs down to the Carson River and the Creek’s water was diverted. Past agriculture diversions removed water from Clear Creek.
Modern Day Impacts
Clear Creek Road and Highway 50 have significantly impacted the Creek. The lower section of the Creek is subject to growing urbanization and increased runoff from commercial parking lots. Locations with the greatest potential to cause stormwater pollution include construction sites, highways, roads, new developments and agricultural areas.
2004 USFS Landscape Analysis and Strategy
2004 Nevada Department of Transportation Erosion Assessment
2007 Clear Creek Stormwater Management Plan – Adopted by Carson City
Between 2004 and 2007, the US Forest Service, Nevada Department of Transportation, and Carson City develoved plans ( links above) to improve the water quality of Clear Creek. Since that time, Carson City installed Baily Pond at Fuji park to protect Clear Creek’s water quality by mitigating stormwater effects. The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) has been systematically improving drainages from Highway 50 to Clear Creek. (More information about NDOT’s extensive work is pending.)