The El Dorado Chapter of CNPS participates in native plant restoration projects several times a year. Projects range from removing invasive weeds so that natives can expand and thrive, planting natives and spreading native seeds in sensitive areas that have been trampled by illegal campers and off-highway vehicle users, restoring riparian habitats back to natural conditions, to replanting natives in burned areas. The El Dorado Chapter leads some of these projects, while others are lead by groups such as the El Dorado National Forest and the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation, with CNPS members providing a big part of the volunteer crew. Check out our schedule of upcoming events to volunteer at an upcoming restoration project or sign up for our e-alerts to be notified as projects develop.
Past Restoration Projects
Building a Beaver Dam Analog - In Memory of Patrick Baron
In December 2018 members of the American River Conservancy, this chapter of CNPS, and others got together at Wakamatsu Farm to build 4 beaver dam analogs in memory of the late Patrick Baron who loved the farm and tended the blue bird boxes there. The 4 beaver dam analogs were built to hold back water and prevent soil erosion in a stream channel below a pond. They can help recharge the groundwater in that area, by preventing runoff. There is the hope that maybe someday a beaver could find it’s way up to the farm. To see more photos (in a slideshow), click here.
King Fire Area
In an effort to reduce erosion following the devastating King Fire in the northern portion of the Eldorado National Forest, the US Forest Service spread rice straw mulch in sensitive areas, such as lava caps. Unfortunately, along with the rice straw, a number of invasive weeds were introduced, including Johnsongrass, barnyardgrass, bull thistle, sow thistle, and crabgrass. CNPS volunteers assisted in mapping the occurrence and extent of these invasive weeds and helped in pulling out these weeds in sensitive lava cap areas. Chapter members also drafted a letter with the data to describe the problem of invasive weeds being introduced with the rice straw mulch and offer recommendations to solve the problem. They circulated the letter broadly to the networks of managers concerned about controlling the spread of invasive plants. Read the letter here (pdf). Lava caps are special places in our forest with thin soils and rocky openings. They feature incredibly beautiful spring wildflower shows and host plant communities unique in the forest.
Jones Fork Silver Creek
Visualize a crisp, cool fall day, a clear mountain stream flowing swiftly through a stately mixed conifer forest with white fir (Abies concolor), ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) and incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), with a sandy beach for your lunch spot. Now visualize the same spot marred by trash, and scarred by motor vehicle tracks that have destroyed the vegetation and left rills and gullies in the steep access way, eroding the soil and carrying it down to the stream. A number of El Dorado Chapter CNPS members volunteered with the Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation to restore just such an area that was directly impacting the Jones Fork of Silver Creek in the Crystal Basin area of the Eldorado National Forest. Volunteers covered errant motor vehicle tracks with on-site mulch and leaf litter, placed woody debris on the eroding areas to prevent soil from moving down the hillside into the stream, and reopened water bars that had been knocked down by vehicles. They also picked up trash around the streamside area. To help prevent this type of damage from happening in the future, volunteers placed logs and slash where vehicles had previously made tracks off of the designated road. All of the volunteers agreed that the site was returned to a much more natural and healthy condition. The fish, frogs, and forest will all be thankful.
Here is a site south of the community of Georgetown, where CNPS volunteers have labored over the years, removing a variety of noxious weeds ranging from blackberry thickets to Scotch broom to barb goatgrass. Most recently, CNPS volunteers have focused on barb goatgrass (Aegilops triuncialis), which is an annual grass with a native range throughout Europe, Asia, and the Mediterranean Basin. Barb goatgrass has invaded the United States where it is particularly invasive in California. It is expanding its range in the state and becoming a dominant grass in the foothill grasslands of central California. It outcompetes native grasses, reduces habitat for threatened species, affects microbial communities, and alters nutrient cycling dynamics.
Seventeen volunteers from El Dorado CNPS, Trout Unlimited, and Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation joined staff from the US Forest Service for a day of planting and restoration at Alder Creek. This is an ongoing restoration of an overused and heavily damaged area along Alder Creek in the Eldorado National Forest. During the past year and a half, chapter volunteers have worked closely with restoration partners to gather and propagate native plant seeds at the US Forest Service’s nursery in Camino. Many thanks to all who were able to attend.