The Sierra Fund (TSF) led an amazingly productive Field Camp at the Clover Valley Ranch site from June 23-30, 2018. This week of fieldwork at an iconic meadow in the Feather River watershed in Plumas County helped to accomplish project research, monitoring and implementation goals. More than that, it catalyzed a collaborative experience for the more than 25 participants that got their hands dirty with various project activities, including constructing Beaver Dam Analogues (BDAs), surveying stream channels and vegetation, monitoring water quality and discharge, identifying avian species and learning to apply Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) to increase the abundance and resilience of native meadow species.
TSF was excited by the participation of a diverse set of experts and stakeholders, including the original people of the area (the Mountain Maidu), three universities (CSU Chico, San Francisco State University and UC Davis), two federal agencies (USFWS and NRCS) and three environmental consulting firms. On hand to visually document the valley and its move toward resilience was a professional illustrator and a certified drone pilot, both of whom captured the vast beauty and fine details of the meadow with their respective mediums.
A massive accomplishment of the June Field Camp was the installation of four BDAs at select in-stream locations between engineered check dam structures. The combination of these structures will slow the flow of water through the meadow and reconnect the stream to the floodplain, resulting in increased sediment and nutrient deposition, as well as improved habitat for native plant and animal species. The hope is that beaver living other places in the valley will eventually migrate to the BDA locations and make a long-term contribution to the “natural engineering” of the system through maintenance and improvements to the man-made dams.
A second Field Camp is planned for August 20-25, the focus of which will be restoring vegetation to areas disturbed by the in-channel work slated to take place throughout the summer season.
The success of this project in restoring ecosystem resiliency will be measured through analysis of pre- and post- hydrologic, geomorphic, vegetative and species-specific data collected according to the protocols advocated for by the Sierra Meadows Partnership (SMP). Increased community resiliency as a project outcome will be evaluated based on the diversity and commitment of Plumas County stakeholders to contribute to project scoping and activities, including continued involvement of the Mountain Maidu and local ranching community members.