A Season for Partnerships
Out of the ashes, partnerships are born: Friends of Plumas Wilderness has been less visible during lockdown, but we are more active than ever, collaborating with like-minded partners to further our mission. While we are socially distant, we are united in spirit, vision, and shared ambitions.
Personal isolation has underscored the joys of working together. FoPW has joined a rich profusion of interactive and interdependent efforts among stakeholders. As the season warms and the days lengthen, this issue of The Equinox celebrates a blossoming of connections after the massive loss the Bear Fire inflicted on our watershed. As we enter the season of recovery for which we all keen so strongly, coalitions will be key.
This issue of The Equinox brings into focus the real need for protecting this place, tending wildlands with care, and working together. It summarizes what we have been up to recently and how we hope to engage YOU to help us accomplish our mission – to “study, explore, and maintain the integrity of natural ecosystems where the Sierra and Cascades meet.” Please join us!
Scott Stirling, Trinity Stirling, and Andrew Murphy (R-L) celebrate after kiosk installation.
If FoPW gave a Volunteer of the Year award, Scott Stirling would be the winner for several years running. He designed and installed the new Bucks Summit kiosk, the result of a 5-year effort and collaboration between Quincy Rotary, Pacific Crest Trail Association, Plumas National Forest, and FoPW. More photos and details on this Forest Service site!
After seeing the impacts of the Bear Fire, the 6th largest fire in California history, board member Trinity Stirling raised the question, “What can we do as an organization to document the dramatic changes that the Middle Fork has undergone and will continue to experience?” Trinity and Joan Bosque, an Oroville photographer who is passionate about the Middle Fork, have embarked on a citizen science project to document post-fire effects.
The Bear Fire Photo Project, supported by the Rose Foundation’s California Wildlands Grassroots Fund and private donors, will document large-scale changes and share the dramatic beauty of the canyon. Right now, Trinity and Joan are searching for historic photos so our photo points can be paired with past conditions.
Do you have pre-fire photos that overlook the canyon from prominent viewpoints?
This will be an ongoing project. Contact Friends of Plumas Wilderness to find out more ways you can contribute!
FoPW has partnered with Plumas National Forest and Sierra Institute to monitor campsites and day-use areas in the Bucks Lake Wilderness. Using a simple app, volunteers like YOU will input recreation site condition, size, vegetation cover, and other variables. The monitoring will occur every five years to help inform Forest Service Wilderness managers about the health and condition of our beloved Bucks Lake Wilderness.
Want to be involved? Your commitment is a short training session followed by a one-day adventure science field trip. If you’re interested or want to find out more, contact Darla at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Board member Darla DeRuiter has two Feather River College classes working on projects related to the Middle Fork Feather River this spring. Her Ecosystem Management class is revising the 1970 River Plan, and her Human Dimensions of Natural Resources class is developing a public opinion survey about the Middle Fork.
The River Plan update, while unofficial, should help the Plumas National Forest when they undertake a comprehensive revision in the near future, which requires the full NEPA process.
The survey will provide an opportunity to identify use levels and activities, seek input on future management direction, and ask for feedback from the public about the Middle Fork’s future. Watch for the survey link coming soon!
Board member Will Lombardi has initiated two efforts to engage community in exploring our region. Since January the monthly Terrane blog has ground-truthed the local | wild, exploring proposed Special Interest Areas (SIA), inventoried roadless areas, eligible Wild and Scenic rivers and streams, and other unique places in the watershed that remain unprotected. A combined effort among members of our board, Terrane issues covering Red Hill and Mosquito Creek, as well as an introductory issue, have already been posted. Forthcoming issues covering the Adams Peak roadless area, McNab Cypress proposed SIA, and the Mountain House proposed SIA are in the works!
The Fire Footprint Series is a collaborative project among FoPW, Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, the UC Cooperative Extension, and the Pacific Crest Trail Association. The Fire Footprint Series takes the place of past indoor lectures. It will be a socially distanced first-hand experience in the Bear Fire footprint led by experts from several fields. The partners are still ironing out details for this series of events, including the final schedule and which locations will prove the most impactful. Our objective is to inspire and engage reflection where recreation, management practices, citizen science, and art and representation intersect. Stay tuned for updates as sections of the burn become accessible and our plans take shape!
This January, FoPW submitted a letter to the Plumas County Planning Department urging they not approve a use permit for the proposed Portola aggregate mine. The proposed mine is within a State Game Refuge designated in the early 1900s to protect fawning areas and migration corridors for the Doyle deer herd. The area is zoned as an agricultural preserve, is immediately adjacent to the city of Portola, and is in close proximity to the Middle Fork Feather River, a federally designated Wild & Scenic River. In the coming days, Plumas County Supervisors will vote to determine the fate of the city as well as the wildlife who frequent the area. Let your supervisors know you oppose the mine! The Save Eastern Plumas County group has more information on their website.
In a dramatic change of course the State Water Board is proposing permits be granted for suction dredge mining! In 2005, the Karuk Tribe, Cal Trout, and Friends of the North Fork convinced the Water Board to establish a state-wide moratorium on suction dredge mining, who subsequently recommended the practice “be permanently prohibited”. FoPW and twenty other organizations signed on to a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board urging they follow their own recommendation and not allow any new dredging permits. In the Feather River watershed, dredging would be allowed on Red Clover Creek.
FoPW Secretary, Darla DeRuiter skis along Silver Lake Road on a sunny winter day.
In February, board president Darrel Jury met with Plumas National Forest Supervisor Chris Carlton and his staff to share our vision of protecting more places where people and wildlife can experience the quiet of winter. Our primary objection to the PNF Record of Decision on Oversnow Vehicle Use Designation is the last minute change allowing over-snow vehicles on the Silver Lake Road. The area sees far more human-powered winter visitors than winter motorized users, has limited parking, is adjacent to the Bucks Lake Wilderness, and is critical habitat for the Endangered Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog.
Will and Darrel diligently working on this newsletter!
FoPW has a new downtown Quincy office in anticipation of ramping up post-COVID and bringing on an intern. We’re fortunate to be in the same building with Plumas Audubon Society, Lost Sierra Food Project, and Pup-n-Suds Productions in what’s becoming a hub of non-profit activity. It’s a beautiful, spacious office at 429 Main Street just west of Quincy Pharmacy. We’re down the hall in Suite C, with room to display our t-shirts: available for a $30 donation – stop by to get yours!
We have a few office needs:
Loveseat / small couch
Floor lamp(s) / desk lamp
Printer cartridge (HP DeskJet 932C)
Glass for top of map file ‘table’ (40”x48”)
Donate any of these items, and get a t-shirt!
Two folks have joined our board – welcome Kaline LeCoq and Ron Logan!
Kaline, who joined the board in June 2020 and serves as board treasurer, moved to Plumas County in 2006 after growing up in Los Angeles. She worked for the Plumas National Forest doing forestry, botany, and ecology field work for several field seasons until attending CSU Chico, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Ecology, Conservation, and Botany. Kaline’s spare time is spent playing with her son, her dog, or in the Lost Sierra looking for flowers.
Ron Logan accepted our invitation to join the board this year in January. A fourth generation Plumas County resident, Ron enjoys skiing in the winter, and hiking, exploring, and swimming in the Feather River Watershed’s streams and lakes in the summer. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Biology from UCSB and a teaching credential from CSU Chico. Ron taught junior high and high school science and alternative education for twenty-five years. During his teaching career, he was a core teacher for Feather River Land Trust’s Learning Landscapes program and Science Vertical Team Lead for the district. Ron has served as president of the Plumas County Teachers Association and the Plumas Ski Club.