The Next Generation of River Stewards
The Fall River Valley is uniquely rich in cultural and geographic history that places people and the river as distinctively dependent upon each other. As significant as is the past, the future of this relationship between the river and the people will be shaped and defined by today’s generation. Research suggests that the youth of today spend nearly half as much time enjoying and appreciating the great outdoors as children 20 year ago. Fortunately many children that grow up in the Fall River Valley are able to spend significant time outdoors, though this is not the case across the board. Further there is a case to be made that “directed” outdoor time, i.e. direct mentorship with knowledgeable resource professionals, helps to provide meaning and context to time spent enjoying the bountiful beauty of the area. Senior Project Students planting shrubs with Fall River Conservancy staff
FRC Mentors Students and Offers High School Scholarships
Over the 2013/2014 school year, the Fall River Conservancy gave back to the community and invested in the next generation of conservationists by providing conservation and watershed stewardship focused Senior Projects with the Fall River Junior and Senior High School. Three senior students completed their 20-hour senior project with the Conservancy, and gave back to their local river in a meaningful way. Senior Project Advisor Kenneth Howes, English Teacher at Fall River Junior and Senior High School, commented at the conclusion of the Senior Projects that those offered by the Fall River Conservancy were, “substantive and life-altering”. One student, Clay Brock will be studying Watershed Science at Shasta College in the fall in part due to his time with the Conservancy.
Senior Project Accomplishments
Senior project students learned about the unique geo logic and aquatic history of the river and the wild trout that rely on it. Many students were unaware of the significance of the Fall River as California’s largest spring-fed river and cold water refugia for wild trout. Students also learned about some of the ecological issues effecting the Fall River such as degrading stream-banks, aquatic and terrestrial invasive species, lack of riparian vegetation, etc.
Colin Vestal focused his Senior Project on invasive aquatic species, and aided the FRC in installing a new kiosk on the CalTrout access property on the Fall River. Colin also developed an informative pamphlet about the aquatic invasive species found in the Fall River and the pamphlet will be made available on the new CalTrout kiosk.
Clay Brock and David Putalluz focused their Senior Projects on stream-bank restoration. Clay aided in planting and caging all of the plantings at the CalTrout property on the Fall River. This pilot restoration project was important to determine what type of riparian plants would survive in the riparian area of the Fall River. Clay and David caged the plantings to prevent beaver and muskrat damage, and also provided weeding maintenance to reduce competition to the new plants.
David also attended one of the Fall River Conservancy’s PIT Wild Trout Tagging days in April. David, a young angler, was a part of the crew of researchers from UC David and Department of Fish and Wildlife scientists who partnered with FRC to tag wild trout. It was a memorable experience for David and for FRC.
Scholarship for Future Watershed Stewards
In support of the great work done by the Senior Project students, and to help students pursuing continuing education in Natural Resource Conservation, the Fall River Conservancy established a scholarship fund. The scholarship was offered at both high schools in the Fall River Joint Unified School District, and was awarded to Clay Brock at FRHS and Gabriella Villarruel at BHS. Both Clay and Gabby will be attending Shasta College in the fall to study Watershed Management and Wildlife Biology respectively. Both students reflect the values and mission of the Fall River Conservancy and we wish them the very best in their future studies. The mission of the Fall River Conservancy is to preserves the lands, waters, and cultural heritage of Northern California’s Fall River Valley, and we feel that supporting today’s youth is an important part of achieving our mission.