In an effort to better inform our supporters of our projects and accomplishments, we will be publishing The Equinox two times per year, providing up-to-date news on how Friends of Plumas Wilderness is working to restore, protect, and inform people about wildlands and rivers found where the Sierra and Cascades meet. We’ve titled our newsletter The Equinox as it marks the two times each year (about March 21 and September 23) when the sun crosses the equator and day and night are equal everywhere on Earth. This biannual celestial event captures how our organization strives to achieve equity and balance in public land management decisions through collaboration, as well as how we aim to daylight important conservation concerns. We hope you enjoy the inaugural issue of The Equinox and continue to support our work to conserve our local | wild by giving and volunteering.
RIVER CLEAN-UP, WILD & SCENIC SIGNS, WETLAND RESTORATION
The Second Annual Middle Fork Feather River Clean-up was a hit with 50 attendees! Thanks to our volunteers we were able to remove so much trash from the 1/2-mile stretch of river at Red Bridge Campground that we will have to pick a new location for next year’s event! Thanks to our co-sponsor Plumas National Forest, we were also able to assist in the installation of a Wild and Scenic River sign at Red Bridge. ~Trinity Stirling
The Middle Fork of the Feather is one of the original eight rivers designated as Wild and Scenic in 1968, which means that signs marking the watershed have had a long time to suffer the effects of neglect or to wander off. Thankfully, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Act, Plumas National Forest purchased signs for all major crossings and access points along the river. This Fall, FoPW helped to install some of those signs with an all-star group of volunteers who carried signs and digging tools for miles to help ensure that all users know that the Middle Fork and the land around it is protected. ~Trinity Stirling
FoPW volunteers and Forest Service staff hiked up the Granite Gap trail, along the PCT, and dropped into one of the beautiful fens of the Bucks Lake Wilderness. Fens are a type of wetland ecosystem that are supported by groundwater and have soils with very high organic matter. The group restored parts of the wetland by filling the small channels that had been causing erosion and loss of soil and plants. If these eroded channels were allowed to continue to incise, the velocity of the water traveling through the system would increase, thereby initiating a negative feedback loop of further erosion. Volunteers used pieces of wood, bark, and soil from the surrounding uplands to pack the channels that were forming, thereby forcing the water out of the channel and back across the entire floodplain. This will result in increased groundwater retention, which will allow the diverse flora of the fens to thrive, and provide more water for longer periods, throughout the season. Because these sites are all within the wilderness boundary, all work was done by hand, without the use of power or wheeled tools. FoPW is grateful to its strong volunteer base and to the Forest Service staff who contributed to the restoration of these unique ecosystems we are lucky to have in our own backyard. ~ Dana Flett
PARTNERING TO PROTECT SNOW SANCTUARIES AND RESTORE FIRE
Over the past five years, Friends of Plumas Wilderness has partnered with state and national organizations to advocate for non-motorized snow sanctuaries on the Lassen and Plumas National Forests. As advocates for wild places we see winter travel planning as an opportunity to protect places valued by wildlife and people who seek solitude from the noise and pollution of over-snow vehicles. Darrel Jury, who has been involved with winter travel planning on the Lassen and Plumas National Forests, emphasizes that, “This is a top-priority issue for Friends of Plumas Wilderness as the outcome of Over-Snow Vehicle planning will dictate which public lands in our region are eligible for Wilderness and Wild & Scenic River protections in the future.”
Friends of Plumas Wilderness, Sierra Forest Legacy, and the US Forest Service brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, representing over twenty organizations, to discuss restoring fire to the Ishi Wilderness at a workshop held in Chico on February 3rd. To see where prescribed fire has been used to manage vegetation in ecosystems similar to those found in the Ishi Wilderness, CSU-Chico Geography Professor Don Hankins led workshop participants on a field trip to the Big Chico Creek Eco Reserve. A $5,000 California Wildlands Grassroots Fund grant enabled FOPW and partners to host two workshops aimed at building momentum to restore fire in the Ishi Wilderness. The first workshop was held at The Nature Conservancy’s Dye Creek Preserve on June 11, 2019 where twenty stakeholders attended. Twice that many people attended the second workshop in Chico where attendees raised concerns, described desired outcomes, and provided recommendations to the Lassen National Forest.
INFORMING PEOPLE ABOUT LOCAL WILDLANDS AND RIVERS
Darla and Darrel represented Friends of Plumas Wilderness at the Patagonia Outlet in Reno for their Customer Appreciation Party on November 29th. Turns out that “Black Friday” is a big deal! The store was packed all day, and despite the slushy roads, plenty of locals and even friends from Plumas County dropped by the table to talk wilderness. A wolf pelt and 360-degree video goggles attracted folks and good conversation kept many engaged. The generous folks at Patagonia gave 100% of the proceeds from beer and snack donations to our group at the end of the day!
The Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Oroville on February 29 was a wild success with Darrel Jury introducing Visions of the Lost Sierra, Trina Cunningham sharing a beautiful Mountain Maidu water song, and Dick Laursen spreading his vision for a Middle Fork Feather River National Monument. The 250 attendees gave resounding approval to Mr. Laursen’s impassioned proposal, suggesting that Oroville conservationists are on board to help with the effort. Stay tuned for more information about the National Monument proposal. Shown above are event organizers Shannon DeLong and Joan Bosque with Darrel Jury, Darla DeRuiter, Dick and Carol Laursen.