Archive for the ‘Fall River News’ Category

CalTrout and FRC Working Together on Property Improvements

/ May 3rd, 2013 / Comments Off on CalTrout and FRC Working Together on Property Improvements

FRC Partners with California Trout to Improve Island Road Property

007FRC and California Trout (CalTrout) came together this spring to share the costs of improving the CalTrout Island Road property. As many of you may have already noticed, we’ve improved the access road and parking area and added a full turn around for launching small boats and kayaks.  New signage and an information kiosk will be installed over the next few months.  All property rules and regulations will remain the same including no gas motors!

Additionally, FRC and CalTrout are now working together to launch a pilot Streambank Restoration Project on the property.  The project calls for the re-vegetation and stabilization of approximately 500 feet of streambank with assemblages of native plants, tress, and shrubs. In addition to hiring a professional contractor to design the restoration/re-vegetation plan, FRC and CalTrout will be working with local high schools to engage young people in the restoration effort.

The purpose of this joint effort is threefold:

  1. Improve the angling experience (access, information)  for CalTrout constituents (parking, boat launch, picnic area, kiosks, informative signage)
  2. Improve aesthetics and ecological health of the property, demonstrate commitment to restoration and protection of Fall River and the benefits of Streambank Re-vegetation
  3. Educate public on issues affecting river (invasive aquatic plants, sediment, etc.) and role of CalTrout/FRC in addressing key issues

Look for the streambank restoration project to begin in the late summer and fall of 2013.

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FRC Funds New Z-Grass Research on Fall River

/ May 3rd, 2013 / Comments Off on FRC Funds New Z-Grass Research on Fall River

New Z-Grass Research Funded By FRC In 2013

FRC Funds Chico State to Research Z-Grass Restoration Strategies in Fall River

FRC is pleased to announce a new partnership in the spring of 2013 with the Chico State Department of Biological Sciences. Beginning this month, Dr. Kristina Schierenbeck will lead a team of researchers to explore new strategies for restoring Zannicheliia palustris (Z-grass) throughout the Fall River. The team will experiment with new re-vegetation methodologies and also assess the benefits that Z-grass provides for bugs, periphyton, and fish.

Read below for a full description of the research plan.

Introduction

Zannichellia palustris is an aquatic, herbaceous, flowering plant native to North America.  It is common where it occurs in fresh to brackish waters and can form large colonies.  Zannichellia palustris has a significant positive effect on species diversity and species interactions providing fish food via invertebrate habitat and refuge from predation, particularly when it is present throughout the water column.  The shallowly rooted Z. palustris has been documented to occur up to depths of 16 feet and in the Fall River occurs at water depths of 6 inches to 8-12 feet.

Although once present throughout the Fall River, Shasta County, California, it has virtually disappeared from some areas due to extensive sediment accumulation that began in 1983 (Spencer and Ksander 2002).  Sedimentation and the subsequent decline of Z. palustris are thought to be contributing factors to the decline of native trout populations in the Fall River.   Although viable seed banks of Z. palustris are thought to exist for many years, burial under greater than 2 cm of sediment will inhibit germination (Spencer and Ksander 2002).

There are many examples of channel modification and engineering to encourage native plant growth and restore flow regimes; however actual in-stream planting has not been attempted while maintaining water flows.  The only successful programs where aquatic plant restoration has been implemented are for eelgrass (Zostera marina) in estuarine systems (Thom et al. 2005).  Methods for eelgrass restoration include the manual planting of greenhouse grown plant shoots and broadcast seeding for several consecutive years (Pickerell et al. 2005).  Data on increasing fish populations with aquatic restoration is limited; however, it is clear that habitat improvements may take as long as a decade to result in a significant increase in fish abundance.

Questions

Questions to be addressed:  1. What are the most successful and cost effective methods of Z. palustris re-vegetation in the Fall River?  2.  Following the establishment of Z. palustris, are there positive effects in fish habitat as measured by invertebrate and periphyton activity?

Methods

In-stream restoration of aquatic vegetation has not been attempted experimentally, thus some preliminary experimentation will be required to establish the most efficacious methods for plant establishment.  Seed germination for Z. palustris has been established as optimal at temperatures of 25-30oC, which occur in the Fall River from mid-June through mid-July.  At temperatures from 5-15oC, 25-45% of seeds will germinate although with longer times to germination.  Experimentation in the Carruthers lab at USDA/ARS indicates that seeds will germinate in light temperatures equivalent to those found at about 9 feet at mid-day in January.  Well- hydrated Z. palustris sink quickly, thus reestablish may be possible via seeding.  Perturbation of the sediment has been demonstrated to increase Z. palustris recruitment and thus will be included as a treatment (Hidding et al. 2010).  Experimentation with small plants will determine if the shallowly rooted Z. palustris requires anchoring.

The evaluation of different seeding and planting techniques will require technical trials to begin in May 2013 with the following treatments:  1. Control (no treatment), 2. Sediment disturbance, 3. Direct seeding without anchoring to the river bottom, 4. Planting young plants without anchoring to the river bottom, 5. Direct seeding with anchoring via a biodegradable fabric anchored with stakes, and 6. Planting young plants with anchored fabric.   If any of these treatments are untenable or need modification, adjustments to the experimental treatments will be necessary.  About 25,000 seeds have been collected and are available for experimentation.  Each of the six treatments will be replicated three times at different locations along the river between the headwaters of the Fall River and the Spring Creek Bridge.  At each site, each treatment will be replicated five times for a total of 90 plots.  Each experimental plot will be 1.5 m2 with 30 plants or seeds per site.  Planting and seeding density may need adjustment in the field.

Monthly sampling of all plots will include the following measurements:  stem/plant frequency, mortality, and percent cover.   Plots will be sampled with a sinkable plot, photographed with an underwater camera and the images evaluated in the lab.  Preliminary work indicates that this is an effective sampling method.  At quarterly intervals, leaf samples will be collected and quantified for periphyton colonization and composition.  Invertebrate composition in the plots will also be sampled quarterly with nets without damage to the plants.   One year after planting, five plants from each plot will be harvested, dried and measured for above and below ground biomass.  Data will be analyzed with an Analysis of Variance for differences among treatments and ordination methods will be used to assess environmental parameters associated with planting.

Schedule

Spring Semester and Summer 2013 Planting set-up and Planting
July 2013 – July 2014 Monthly sampling and data analysis
Summer and Fall 2014 Final data analysis
Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 Manuscript Production
Projected Project Completion Summer 2015

 

Literature Cited

Hibbing, B., B.A. Nolet, T. deBoer, P.P. deVries, and M. Klassen.  2010.  Above- and below-ground vertebrate herbivory may each favor a different subordinate species in an aquatic plant community.  Oecologia 162:199-208.

Pickerell, C.H., S. Schott, and S. Wyllie-Echeverria.  2005.  Buoy-deployed seeding:

Demonstration of a new eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) planting method.  Ecological Engineering 1725:127-136.

Spencer, D.F. and G.G. Ksander.  2002.  Sedimentation disrupts natural regeneration of

Zannichellia palustris in Fall River, California.  Aquatic Botany 73:137–147

Thom, R.M., G. Williams, A. Borde, J. Southard, S. Sargeant, D. Woodruff, J.C. Laufle, and S.

Glasoe. 2005. Adaptively Addressing Uncertainty in Estuarine and near Coastal Restoration

Projects.  Journal of Coastal Research: 94-108.

 

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Food Web Dynamics of Spring Rivers

/ May 3rd, 2013 / Comments Off on Food Web Dynamics of Spring Rivers

New Fall River Research from Erin Donley (UC Davis, Ph.D. Student) 

Food Web Dynamics of Spring Fed Rivers: Independent UC Davis Research

weevils 010At FRC, we do everything we can to support independent research from talented scientists and universities interested in the Fall River.  In Erin Donley’s case, we hardly need to do a thing. She brings to the Fall River the resources, experience, and multidisciplinary approach of UC Davis to help us better understand how this complex ecological system functions.  If you see her on the river, lend her a hand or get out of her way: she’s doing great work!

Read on for a description of Donley’s research abstract:

Food Web Dynamics of Spring Fed Rivers

Food webs are important drivers of ecosystem processes and are of particular importance in aquatic ecosystems, where they represent the energetic pathway between organic matter from vegetation and often threatened or endangered apex consumer populations.

Currently, a large degree of uncertainty

slide4

exists surrounding the influence of bottom-up forces (carbon and nutrients from various sources: allochthonous, autochthonous, or groundwater sources) on the structure and function of aquatic food webs.

To address this uncertainty, I propose to assess the influence of various primary production sources and substrate types on macroinvertebrate community structure in spring-fed rivers of Shasta County: Fall River, Rising River, Hat Creek.

In this study, I intend to investigate the following questions: 1) What is the current composition of the portfolio of primary production sources in spring-fed rivers in Shasta County? 2) How might shifts in the composition of the portfolio of primary production sources impact food web community structure (species richness, species composition, patterns of interactions among species)? 3) How do changes in food web community structure influence system stability and resilience?

I intend to investigate these questions using a combination of stable carbon isotope analysis, empirical field studies, simulation modeling and network analysis.  I hypothesize that diverse sources of fine particulate organic matter (FPOM) support diverse invertebrate food web communities. I also expect that diverse invertebrate communities will be more stable, resilient and able to sustain ecosystem functioning in the form of nutrition for the iconic rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) of northern California spring-fed rivers.

 

slide 5

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Eurasian Watermilfoil: Where did it go?

/ May 3rd, 2013 / 1 Comment »

Eurasian Watermilfoil Outbreak Crashes: Really? 

Restoring a Moving Target

milfoilslide

As many of you may have noticed, this last winter the Fall River saw a die-back of the aquatic invasive species Eurasian Watermilfoil, as well as, native aquatic vegetation. Although it is unclear what may have caused this die-back, it is unlikely that it can be attributed to any single cause.

The Fall River is not the first watershed to see an invasion and dominance of Eurasian watermilfoil for a few years, and then an unexplained decline and die-back. Despite numerous studies across North America, researchers have not identified any one mechanism responsible; however it is likely a combination of factors at play.

The good news is that the native vegetation, especially Z-grass, appears to be recovering vigorously, whereas, there have only been patchy pockets of Eurasian watermilfoil observed that have returned to the lower sections of the river. If this trend continues, the Z-grass and other native aquatic vegetation may be able to establish itself and develop a competitive advantage for resources over the Eurasian watermilfoil. Although we are in the early stages of observing and recording these positive changes to the aquatic vegetation community, there is still work we can do to ensure Eurasian watermilfoil or other invasive species do not establish themselves in the Fall River.

But to be clear, Eurasian watermilfoil in the Fall River is likely not gone for good: especially in the lower river. We’ll be monitoring it closely and ready to act if it comes back. Thus is the nature of trying to restore a complex, cold-water, spring-creek fishery in Northern California: it’s a moving target. Long ago, Aristotle suggested that nature has a reason for everything. If only he were here to explain.  Unfortunately, as with so many ecological mysteries, we can only shake our heads and wonder.  How can this happen? What now? Is it really gone?

Summary of What We Know:

  1. No single factor caused the decline
  2. Dense milfoil infestations in lakes sometimes die back after approximately a decade of growth
  3. In other locations across the United States, Eurasian watermilfoil populations increased to high levels of dominance, maintained dominance for a few years, and then declined

Why do dense milfoil populations suddenly decline?

Thanks to our science partners at the US Department of Agriculture and the UC Davis Graduate Group of Entomology, specifically Ray Carruthers (USDA) and Erin Donley (USDA/UCD), we do have some understanding of factors that can affect the growth and decline of Eurasian watermilfoil.  Donley and Carruthers are quick to point out that no single cause or mechanism has been identified to explain the recent collapse.

More likely, the synergistic effects of several different BIOTIC (biologically-based) and ABIOTIC causes contributed to the decline. Donley identified two existing scientific papers that are particularly relevant to the Fall River Eurasian watermilfoil issue.

  1. Carpenter, SR. 1980. The decline of Myriophyllum spicatum in a eutrophic Wisconsin Lake. Canadian Journal of Botany. 58: 527-535.
  2. Smith, CS and JW Barko. 1990. Ecology of Eurasian watermilfoil. Journal of Aquatic Plant Management. 28:55-64.

Summary of Key Points in Existing Scientific Literature

milfoilslide2Late arrival of predators and/or pathogens: When an exotic plant becomes established in a new environment, it can sometimes invade quickly because it arrives without the predators and/or pathogens that would normally check its population in its native habitat.  However, over time, these predators and/or pathogens may also show up in the newly infested environment (often using the same pathways the exotic plants were initially introduced through — i.e., ballast water, boat props, etc.). Lake Venice Disease (most likely a bacterial agent) and Northeast disease for instance, have been documented at many infested locations and appear to reduce fitness in Eurasian watermilfoil.

Native plants can adapt over time to compete with exotic invaders: An additional consequence of an exotic plant being transplanted to a new environment is that the initial invasion usually begins with just a few individual plants (which represent only a small fraction of the assortment of genes [genetic diversity] one would find in the populations these plants originally came from). Whereas, the native plants at the site of invasion generally have relatively high levels of genetic diversity relative to the exotics. Although the exotic plant may dominate initially, the native individuals that survive in spite of the impact of the exotic plant become the dominant breeding individuals in the native populations. As a consequence, the offspring of the hearty native strains are also more likely to have traits that allow them to tolerate or compete with the exotics. However, this process of breeding hearty natives may take many years. It is possible that after a decade, the natives have become better competitors.

Dense epiphytes preventing photosynthesis: When epiphytes become too dense, they can cover so much of the macrophyte’s surface area that it can reduce the amount of photosynthesis that can take place. In some cases when a reduction of milfoil was observed, dense epiphyte coverage was also observed. I think this is a case where it would be extremely important to use experiments to better understand this relationship between milfoil and epiphytes because happen-chance observations (which I believe are what is being reported in these papers) only tell us about correlations (not causes).

Other factors that may play a role in milfoil’s decline

According to USDA, the following ABIOTIC factors were also considered in existing literature. However, their impacts were not found to show consistent trends within and/or between sites (in some cases these factors played a role, but in other cases they did not):

  1. Toxins
  2. Mechanical removal of Eurasian watermilfoil
  3. Herbicide application
  4. Climate
  5. Temporal or geographic factors

Conclusions

slide3According to Donley, “The bottom line is the pattern of proliferation and subsequent decline in Eurasian watermilfoil has been observed in many different places across the country. However, there is no consistent explanation for why this occurs.

On the Fall River last winter, we saw die-back of milfoil AND native vegetation. Ray Carruthers, a senior scientist at USDA and leading Fall River researcher, noted that die-back of vegetation across the board is not something he has observed in previous years. Clearly, the natives (especially Z-grass) have recovered beautifully and last season we really only saw patchy pockets of Eurasian watermilfoil in the lower sections of the river.

It is possible that z-grass has adapted to be a better competitor to milfoil by becoming established more quickly as it recovers. In the academic world, there is a term called “priority effects,” which is essentially the idea that if an organism can become established before any other organisms and occupy the limiting factors (be they space, nutrients, light, etc.), that organisms will be dominant. This may be one possible explanation for what we are observing.”

Next Steps

The Fall River Conservancy is committed to working with researchers, agencies, land-owners and the community in the next stages of the fight against Eurasian watermilfoil. Given that the future of Eurasian watermilfoil is uncertain in the Fall River, we are at a critical stage to combat against it by observing and recording the changes that take place in the river over the next few months. The Fall River Conservancy is working closely with CalTrout and other landowners to establish an education campaign focused on preventing the spread and introduction of invasive species. Through informative signage and brochures located at key launch sites, we will introduce some basic steps that all of us as river-users can take to prevent spreading harmful invasive plants and species to our regions cherished rivers and lakes.  With your help we can ensure the Fall River remains a cold-water oasis dominated by native species for years to come.

 

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FRC Launches First Wild Trout Tagging Program

/ May 3rd, 2013 / Comments Off on FRC Launches First Wild Trout Tagging Program

FRC Tags 500 Fall River Wild Trout for Monitoring

Watch Video on Fall River PIT Program!  https://vimeo.com/65069455

27 inches

Where do Fall River Wild Trout Spawn?

Ever wonder where and when Fall River wild trout spawn? Or how far they migrate throughout 25 plus miles of interconnected springs, lakes, and river? How important is Lava Creek, Spring Creek, Big Lake, or Ja-She Springs to the overall survival of Fall River trout?  Do all Fall River wild trout originate from the same genetic line, or do we have distinct populations spawning at different times throughout the year?

So many questions and so few answers: until now. FRC, UC Davis, and California Trout launched on April 23 the Fall River’s first Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) Monitoring Program.

The primary purpose of the program is to document scientifically when and where Fall River wild trout spawn. The research will be used to prioritize habitat areas for restoration and improve resource management strategies.

See photos by Val Atkinson here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ftwjcyk3l5ak3dp/u6hsTd58MP

Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) Program

Made possible with grant funding from Orvis—and technical support from our partners at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and California Trout—FRC coordinated an effort to tag 250 fish with tracking chips. We’ll tag another 250 fish throughout the summer and fall.

The tracking chips work much like the FasTrak System commonly used for electronic toll collection on bridges throughout the bay area. About the size of a grain of rice, the chip is inserted with a syringe in the abdominal cavity of the fish. Antennas are then placed strategically throughout the greater Fall River system: ideally at the mouth of key tributaries or lake systems, but also on the numerous bridge structures in throughout the mainstem river.  When a tagged fish swims near an antenna, a data logger reads the individual chip code allowing researchers to track movement and location. During the tagging process, each fish is also measured and a small genetic sample clipped from the caudal fin.

Objectives of the PIT Program

P1100977_modAs mentioned above, the objective of the program is to identify where and when fish spawn so that we can prioritize these areas for restoration.  The program will also analyze the genetic makeup of Fall River wild trout to determine whether multiple genetically distinct populations exist within the same system.

We already know that Fall River wild trout are unique because they spawn for a much longer period than most trout populations.  Most populations spawn in the spring months as run-off begins to tail off and water levels begin to drop.

This life-history strategy ensures that their eggs and fry won’t be flushed downstream by an unexpected high water event. Fall River trout, however, don’t have to worry about flooding because spring fed steams tend provide steady, more predictable flows and temperature. According to Carson Jeffres at UCD, this allows our Fall River populations to spawn for an unusually long period: approximately nine months each year. Consequently, it’s possible that this population actually consists of multiple, genetically unique populations. If true, resource managers may choose to modify existing management strategies to protect spawning fish at specific times throughout the year.

Watch Video on Fall River PIT Program!  https://vimeo.com/65069455_DSC8107

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Fall River: Where is the Water?

/ June 12th, 2012 / 2 Comments »

Unless this is your first season fishing the Fall River, you’ve probably noticed this spring the low water levels and lack of early season aquatic vegetation. What gives?

At first we hypothesized that natural cyclical fluctuations were to blame for the late emergence of aquatic macrophytes (large plants). This in turn would explain why water levels have been low because aquatic plants, when present, restrict flow.  As flows slow, the river backs up and water levels rise.

It turns out, however, that this is likely only part of the story. Thanks to info provided by PG&E, we now know that actual outflows of Fall River’s large spring systems appear to fluctuate dramatically over time.  Considering that almost 90% of Fall River water originates from large spring systems, it makes sense that water levels will rise and fall as outflows change.

Fall River Spring Flows at only 69% of 2000 Outflow Levels

Here’s the interesting part. According to hydrologist Gary Freeman at PGE (Power Generation and Water Management):

“The Fall River’s aquifer outflow of its large porous volcanic springs, which have historically contributed 88% of its total water year surface runoff below the springs, has been on a declining trend since its peak in the year 2000.  It is currently only 69% of that high or down about 300 TAF this year from the 2000 water year peak, a decline in flow rate from the springs for this time of year of approx. 413 cubic feet per second (CFS) (equiv. to almost 3 ‘Burney Falls’ in total flow rate changeBurney Falls is about 150 cfs long term ave flow rate).  In other words the current flow from Fall River’s contributing springs is only about 69% of its daily flow 13 years ago.  Historically, since the early 1900’s the Fall River has experienced multidecadal ‘underground droughts’, most recently starting about 1908 and returning to somewhat more ‘normal’ flow rates in the early 1970’s.  I believe that 40-60 year multidecadal groundwater “droughts” are fairly common for this river.”

Where will it go from Here?

Where will it go from here?  Nobody can say for sure, but it’s interesting that over the last decade we’ve observed near historic highs and now near historic lows in total spring outflows.  Other key questions to consider?  How do these flow changes influence Eurasian watermilfoil density, sediment supply issues, and food web cycles in the Fall River?  Why are some spring systems like Thousand Springs and Lava Springs apparently producing normal flows?

Aquatic Vegetation?

What should we expect to see from aquatic vegetation if flows remain low for the remainder of the summer and into next season?  According to Carson Jeffres at the UC Davis Center for Watershed Science, “A wide range of variables could be responsible for the late emergence of aquatic macrophytes on the Fall River this year. At this point, it’s too early to say. Water year type, natural cycles, geomorphic events, reductions in nutrient loads, and other factors, can all have an effect on aquatic vegetation.” So although it may appear that a correlation exists between low flows and slower plant growth, numerous factors may be at work here.

The Fall River Conservancy (FRC), in partnership with California Trout, PG&E, USDA, the CA Dept. of Fish and Game, and the UCD Center for Watershed Sciences, will continue to work on answering these questions.

Bill Bunker: New Fall River Hydropower Manager

FRC would like to thank Bill Bunker (Fall River Hydropower Manager) and staff at PG&E for sharing the information above.  For those for those of you who have not met Bill yet, he is new to the valley and now responsible for the operations and maintenance of 19 powerhouses along the Pit and McCloud river systems, Battle Creek, and Cow Creek.  This network of generating facilities and associated reservoirs and waterways can produce over 800 megawatts of clean electricity for northern California.  Prior to Bill’s current role, he was Vice President of Hydropower Operations for Alcoa Power Generating in Tennessee and North Carolina.  He has 20 years of leadership experience in manufacturing and hydropower generation and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Hydropower Association and is Chair of Emerging Issues for the Electric Utility Cost Group.

Bill is a retired U.S. Navy Commander, having devoted much of his 20 year career to Middle East logistics. Having raised three sons, he and his wife Arla love their new home in northern California and enjoy hiking, kayaking and flying.

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Fall River Water Talks

/ June 12th, 2012 / Comments Off on Fall River Water Talks

Fall River Water Talks

This spring, the Fall River Conservancy (FRC) partnered with California Trout to coordinate a local information sharing forum in McArthur called Water Talks.  Developed by California Trout, Water Talks are an ongoing series of informational and educational presentations with local and regional experts sharing their knowledge with the public on a range of water related topics.

Fall River Water Talks Presenters and Key Points:

Andrew Braugh (Director of Programs, Fall River Conservancy)

“The quality and quantity of water generated by our Fall River spring systems is astounding. The river generates well over one million acre-feet per year of cold, clean water. That’s about as much water as the ten million people in Los Angeles County use annually! We have some critical challenges ahead of us including sediment supply issues and Eurasian watermilfoil outbreaks, but overall we’re encouraged to see conservation groups working with agricultural operators, academic research groups, and major energy providers like PG&E to figure out how to manage this resource for everyone’s benefit.”

Carson Jeffres (Staff Researcher, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences)

“My research interest is focused on exploring how nutrients in the underlying geology can be incorporated into groundwater, emerge as springs, and ultimately provide the base of a productive foodweb.  Coldwater fish species such as coho salmon and rainbow trout are increasingly threatened as climate changes and temperatures rise. They must adapt, migrate or face extinction. But freshwater fish can only migrate so far; they are bound by river corridors, barriers and physical conditions (salt water tolerance, temperature, etc.).

Spring-fed rivers and streams are becoming more important for cold-water fish species because the water volume and temperatures in these systems are more resilient to variation in precipitation and climate change than surface run-off watersheds. Spring-fed rivers will act as cold-water refuges for these species as climate changes and surface water-fed rivers run low and warm.

The underlying geology of a river is one of the most important factors in determining whether a watershed will be more resilient to climate change by maintaining cold water for cold-water species. Water chemistry is another factor that contributes to ecological productivity, particularly in a spring-fed system. Underlying rocks can contain nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, common nutrients in spring waters and critical for a robust aquatic food-web (Jeffres et al. 2009).”

Erin Donley (Researcher, U.S. Department of Agriculture)

“The USDA is working to identify management strategies to improve the long-term biological integrity of the Fall River. My research explores ecology of aquatic food webs of the Fall River including,

  1. Role of aquatic plants in healthy river systems
  2. Aquatic food webs: relationships between plants, invertebrates and fish
  3. Exotic Plants –why are they here?
  4. Eurasian watermilfoil: know impacts, under studies impacts

Aquatic macropyhtes (large aquatic plants) serve as the primary source of energy in river systems (photosynthesis). Macrophytes can serve as scaffolding for other sources of energy including algae, fungi, bacteria, diatoms, etc. They also provide habitat and food sources for invertebrates, fish, amphibians and other wildlife.  Finally, they influence sediment dynamics and influence water quality and nutrient content.  Why do exotic plants invade? Often times a natural or human caused disturbance limits native plants ability to compete.  In the Fall River for example, sedimentation likely disturbed Z-grass (Zannichellia sp.) and other native aquatic plants. Consequently, Eurasian watermilfoil was able to quickly dominate the aquatic environment.  In addition to impeding flow and being an annoyance to recreation fisherman and hydropower operators, Euarasian watermilfoil  can also influence water quality, nutrient cycling, macroinvertebrate communities, and wild trout populations.”

Michelle Berditschevsky (Conservation Director, Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center)

“The Medicine Lake Volcano and its underlying aquifer comprise California’s largest groundwater storage system. The aquifers water surfaces as part of the Fall River’s spring system, the state’s largest spring system.  We feel it’s important for the public to understand the intricate connection between these two amazing systems that are so vital to California’swater supply,”

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Bill Bunker: New PG&E Fall River Hydropower Manager

/ June 12th, 2012 / Comments Off on Bill Bunker: New PG&E Fall River Hydropower Manager

FRC would like to thank Bill Bunker (Fall River Hydropower Manager) and staff at PG&E for providing data and working with the community to better understand why current flows are low this spring.

For those for those of you who have not met Bill yet, he is new to the valley and now responsible for the operations and maintenance of 19 powerhouses along the Pit and McCloud river systems, Battle Creek, and Cow Creek.  This network of generating facilities and associated reservoirs and waterways can produce over 800 megawatts of clean electricity for northern California.

Prior to Bill’s current role, he was Vice President of Hydropower Operations for Alcoa Power Generating in Tennessee and North Carolina.  He has 20 years of leadership experience in manufacturing and hydropower generation and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Hydropower Association and is Chair of Emerging Issues for the Electric Utility Cost Group.

Bill is a retired U.S. Navy Commander, having devoted much of his 20 year career to Middle East logistics. Having raised three sons, he and his wife Arla love their new home in northern California and enjoy hiking, kayaking and flying.

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Senators Visit Fall River

/ November 28th, 2011 / Comments Off on Senators Visit Fall River

FRC hosted Senators Tom Harman, Bob Huff and legislative staffer Kevin Eastman (Senator LaMalfa) for a conservation tour of the Fall River.  The tour focused on key issues threatening the future health of the Fall River, which include the excessive sedimentation blanketing the bottom of the Fall River and the Eurasian watermilfoil outbreak.

FRC also introduced the Senators to one of the major challenges preventing active restoration of the Fall River: Fish and Game Code 5515 “Fully Protected Secies.”

Fish and Game Code 5515 (Fully Protected Species Status) is a legal protective designation administered by the California Department of Fish and Game. The classification “Fully Protected” was the State’s initial effort in the 1960s to provide protection to those species that faced possible extinction. This law predated California’s Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Unlike the ESA, no permitting process exists to authorize construction work that would impact a  “Fully Protected Species” in any way, even when a project is intended to restore habitat conditions for that protected species.

In the Fall River, for example, conservation groups have been advocating to dredge sediment from the river for years.  But because a “Fully Protected Species” exists in the river (rough sculpin), the Department of Fish and Game cannot issue the necessary permits to carry out the project. In contrast, the ESA has provisions built in for mitigation options in the event of unavoidable impact of such projects: often referred to as “Take.”

As a result of the conservation tour, Senator Harman has agreed to assess the potential for sponsoring legislation that could amend the Fully Protected Species law.

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FRC Wraps Up 2011 Grants

/ November 28th, 2011 / Comments Off on FRC Wraps Up 2011 Grants

Water Quality Monitoring Equipment Purchased with Grant Funding from the Shasta Regional Community Foundation

In 2011, FRC received grant funding from the Shasta Regional Community Foundation (SRCF, McConnell Fund), the Orvis Company, and the Rose Foundation. We’re proud to report that all of these grants supported successful projects and helped us build capacity as a local organization working to protect the lands, waters, and cultural heritage of the Fall River Valley.

Specifically, SRCF funds were used to purchase critical water quality monitoring equipment and develop watershed wide geographic information system (GIS) maps.  Orvis funds were utilized to build riparian fencing that will keep unrestricted cattle from destroying sensitive stream banks and native vegetation.   Rose Foundation funds were used to coordinate and educate the local community about issues that will affect the future health of the Fall River.

Combined, all three of these grants allowed FRC to carry out our mission in 2011.  Most importantly, we used the funds to build public and private partnerships in the valley with key organizations including the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, the Fall River Resource Conservation District, the Department of Fish and Game, the USDA Agricultural Research Service and Wildlife Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Fall River Wild Rice Association, and California Trout.

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