Folks from the Basin and Range Project volunteered a few times with the Nature Conservancy of Nevada and the artists working on the Nature of Art Project at McCarran Ranch. We love the idea of using art as a meaningful way to engage people with nature and the need to keep things wild. The Nature of Art Project is great because not only is it beautiful art, but the art also has an important function in restoring the river.
The Nature of Art project uses sculptures, made of native, natural material to help restore the natural flow and meander of the Truckee river (the river was channelized, straightened, in the 1950s for flood control and agriculture). The artists who are the masterminds behind these sculptures are Daniel McCormick and Mary O’Brien. All of their projects have a high conservation value. They do a lot of research, consulting with local biologists, geomorphologists and other scientists, before they start their projects to ensure their work is beneficial to the environment. The sculptures at McCarran Ranch are designed to help slow down floodwaters and enhance wildlife habitat.
While we were there, we learned to make willow wattles (bundles of willow that are the sculpture’s body) and planted some willows along its base. The sculpture itself was a long wave that reflected the shape of a fallen tree, the effect enhanced by a cottonwood skeleton at its head that the artists hope will one day attract nesting birds. It also will slow down water. Next we visited another sculpture-in-progress, this one an upside down y-shaped structure composed mostly of old dry cottonwood that extends down a bank and has log arms extending into the water. It will provide habitat for critters and then willows. There was already scat on one log showing that western pond turtles have been enjoying the piece. We also saw red-winged black birds using taller parts of the piece as perches. Awesome to see the work is attracting wildlife so soon!
These pieces are designed to decompose and return to nature within 3-5 years, so if you'd like to see them you need to do it soon. There are two project sites in the greater area, one is on the Truckeer River at McCarran Ranch, east of Reno and the other is on the Carson River at River Fork Ranch near Genoa, both are Nature Conservancy properties. The project was featured at the Nevada Museum of Art from December 6-April 6, 2015.
See more photos here: Nature of Art Photos.
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The Basin and Range Project
We love the Basin and Range region and work to promote appreciation and respect for the area. We encourage all users to learn about, play in and protect this amazing resource.
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