The Forest Service provided a tour of the Herger-Feistein Quincy Library Group project Jumbuck aspen restoration and the Merrill-Davies watershed restoration.
A group of about 25 people reviewed the success of wetlands restoration Tuesday, 23 June, 2009. The review was hosted by the Sierraville Ranger District, Quentin Youngblood presided.
The event was attended by Forest Service personnel from other areas, by a number of QLG representatives, by representatives of the Sierra County Fire Safe and Watershed Council including Robert Eschleman, Gale Dupree of the Sierra County Fish and Game Commission, Anne Eldred of the Sierra County Planning Commission and other groups, and other interested persons.
Some of the group consider the open space that will soon be covered in Quakies
Removing the conifers, something done by fire in the natural environment, makes Quakie spread possible. For scale, the group is in the distance.
Quaking aspen are among the most beautiful and important trees in the forest ecosystem. They grow by pushing "sprouts" up from existing roots. Many aspen groves consist of only a few actual trees; the rest are "clones". The sprouts come up best when the soil and moist and warm, as when the conifers are cleared back and the soil slightly disturbed.
Quakies aren’t just beautiful, they provide habitat for many of our favorite critters, including warblers and deer. Quakie groves are particularly important as deer "nurseries" where does can safely hide to birth.
Coming back: the ground beneath a healthy quakie grove is moist, shaded, covered with rotting leaves and less likely to burn. This clearing will soon be covered in green quakies.
Quakies thrive in higher altitudes (this project is about 7000 feet) and in moist places. They thrive best in a natural forest where occasional fires burn off the large trees, and especially, the conifers. Conifers alone can nearly extinguish quakies. This project removed the crush of conifers and corrected the watercourse.
The aspen restoration was largely overseen by Craig Wilson (District Wildlife Biologist), Brandy Richardson (Assistant District Wildlife Biologist), Bruce Troedson (Timber Management Officer), Teri Banka (Sierraville Silviculturist). Watershed restoration was overseen by Randy Westmoreland (Eastside Zoned Watershed Specialist) and Sharon Falvey (Zoned Hydrologist).
Frank Stewart, foreground, and in the yellow shirt, Tom Hollabird, from Congressman Tim McClintock's office.
Frank Stewart is the Sierra County QLG forester; he had a lot of information on funding for projects like this. One might think that the federal government would simply write a check for important work like this; not so. The crew had to find grants, and they had to find a market for the timber taken out to pay for the project. There were 2.3 million bf of logs removed. (At today’s log prices that’s worth about a five-spot.) The sale was taking place as the Sierra Pacific Industries Quincy Small Log Mill shut down, making it tricky to find a mill.
Attendees included Anne Eldred, foreground, Sam and Pam Payen, Karie Wiltshire Sierraville FS, SCFSWC Board member (seated) Robert Eschleman, and SCFGC member (red shirt) Gale Dupree, as well as FS staff.
Pam Payen told some of the history of the land. Ancestors knew the land in the 1800s and she has a deep connection with the beautiful watershed.
The review was made much more interesting by the participation of Sam and Pam Payen. The Payen ranch has a grazing allotment and private acreage in the area. Pam Payen’s stories and memories of the canyon and watershed brought the past alive for those present. Her deep personal knowledge and the Payen’s commitment to the land explain why they were willing to undergo some inconvenience during the project. Pam’s descriptions of the way the canyon once looked drove home the importance of the project.
Correcting the watercourse slows the water and increases the moisture. The sagebrush is dying; the area is being reclaimed by grass.
Sweet air, pure water, the high mountain meadows of the Sierra are a rare resource. The U.S.F.S., and in particular the Sierraville Ranger Station are commended for hard work, careful planning and community outreach.
There will be other QLG reviews; consider joining one! See previous story here.