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Watersheds of the Modoc Fall 2004

New Projects Find Local Solutions For Improved Watershed Health

By Cliff Harvey, Central Modoc Resource Conservation District Watershed Coordinator

On the South Fork Pit River just above Likely, thousands of feet of levees will be removed to treat erosion, improve streamside vegetation, improve flood plain function, and enhance water quality. We hope this project, will show that problems caused by channelization can be significantly reduced without adverse effects to the land's agricultural uses.

We are gearing up for fall and winter project work right now, and we hope to have a few of these done by next spring. Topping the list are the "Likely Project" and the "Heard Valena Project."

Just upstream from Likely, we hope to enhance the water quality and habitat value of the South Fork of the Pit by removing nearly 7,000 feet of old levees associated with past channelization of the stream, along with treatment of nearly 1,200 feet of eroding banks. John Flournoy and the Likely Land and Livestock Company will be working partners with CMRCD.

Look around our area and notice the places where rivers and streams have been straightened out. Most of this work was done many decades ago. Some of those stream reaches are fairly stable, but in places where levees or spoil piles remain lined up along the channel, bank stability is usually weak and the vegetation is not what you'd expect. Hint: When you see cheatgrass, scotch thistle and rabbit brush as the dominant streamside vegetation, you probably have an opportunity for improved stream management.

By removing these old levees, we can create conditions where more desirable streamside vegetation can get started, we can reduce the rate and intensity of bank erosion, and we can improve flood plain function of the adjacent meadows.

Another management problem in the Upper Pit River is the difficulty in getting stream vegetation established in places subject to seasonal inundation behind irrigation dams.

The first step here was improved livestock management. In this case, new fencing is protecting the existing riparian vegetation from unmanaged grazing. To explore a range of revegetation strategies for these reaches, the Heard Ranch and the Bill Valena family are cooperating with CMRCD in the installation of four 2-acre test sites that will try out a variety of planting techniques for willows, cottonwoods, and other local tree species associated with streamside sites.

Irrigation dams perform valuable agricultural and economic functions in our community, so finding ways to achieve water quality objectives that compliment production objectives is an important goal for us. As we watch these sites over the next few years, we will gain better understanding of what it takes to better integrate water quality and habitat improvements with agricultural practices in the Pit River drainage.

For more details on both these projects, visit the CMRCD website, or contact the CMRCD staff. Funding for these projects is provided through a Calif. Prop. 13 Phase 1 grant administered by the State Water Resources Control Board, the Cantara Trustees Council, and generous landowner contributions.

We have several other new projects starting soon. For a full list of active and proposed projects, visit the CMRCD website or give us a call.

Farm and Ranch Water Quality Planning
Now Available Through Your Local RCD Staff

The California Rangeland Water Quality Management Plan was developed by the California Cattlemen's Association, the University of California Agricultural Extension Service, and many others in order to provide a means for farms and ranches to identify and fix conditions that might lead to water quality problems. This innovative program provides many conservation opportunities for landowners, while maintaining privacy and private property rights.

These locally developed plans can dovetail with your existing NRCS conservation plans and can help in obtaining that hard-to-find 50% match share for NRCS administered programs such as EQIP.

As an incentive, we will provide fence materials for riparian and wetland management fencing to landowners who work with us to develop new plans under this program. Call for more details!

CMRCD welcomes new cooperators and new project ideas. While we have tended to focus on watershed issues in recent years, we can serve a wide range of conservation needs if the need is shown. To start the process, visit our website at www.cmrcd.carcd.org or call 530-233-8872 for more details.

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Pit River Watershed Alliance News

By James Rickert, Pit River Watershed Alliance Coordinator

Watershed assessment complete!
The Upper Pit River Watershed Assessment was unveiled at the November 4 Pit River Watershed Alliance (PRWA) meeting in Adin. This meeting held the announcement of the assessment, and provided an open forum to discuss the findings in the document. The Pit River Stakeholder's Guide is also nearly complete, with the rough draft available for public review.

Watershed Monitoring
The PRWA Watershed Monitoring Project has successfully completed the first year of watershed monitoring. This year was complete with stream habitat assessments, as well as the traditional water quality monitoring of the main-stem Pit River and many tributaries.

Presentations, presentations and more presentations!
The PRWA has been the focus of multiple presentations up and down the state this year. In August, the PRWA provided a presentation at the Sacramento River Watershed Program's Water Quality Workshop, and was touted as one of two case studies of a "successful" monitoring program.

This same presentation was given at the Sacramento River Watershed Program's Annual Stakeholder Meeting in Redding on November 4 and was also presented at the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD) annual meeting in San Luis Obispo on November 17-20. These presentations promote the good work completed and multitude of partnerships in the Pit River watershed!

Collecting Bugs Is Serious Business
Todd Sloat and a monitoring technician are taking near the Rush Creek Campground.

Macroinvertebrates are animals that have no backbone and are visible without magnification. Stream-bottom macroinvertebrates include such animals as crayfish, mussels, aquatic snails, aquatic worms, and the larvae of aquatic insects. Certain macroinvertebrates have little or no tolerance for pollution, while others can withstand more. The presence or absence of different macroinvertebrates can indicate a stream's relative health and therefore play a key role as indicators of water quality.

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Did you know that every city street is like waterfront property?
It's true! Just take a walk down a city street. Before long, you'll come to a storm drain. Any water that runs down this drain flows directly into our waterways. It does not pass through the sanitary sewer system, and it does not receive any kind of treatment.

This means that whatever we put down these storm drains winds up in our wetlands, lakes and rivers. People who would never dream of polluting a lake or stream might pour paint, used motor oil, or pet waste down storm drains.

Even lawn trash, including grass clippings, are a pollutant to our waterways. These clippings which normally contain heavy nutrients, can negatively impact our water bodies and wildlife not to mention the possibility of clogging the storm drain causing possible flooding during a storm.


  • Learn more about the City of Alturas Stormwater Management Plan that is currently being developed. More information may be obtained by contacting Stacey Chase, Director of Public Works for the City of Alturas at 530-233-2377 or call the River Center at 530-233-5085.
  • Never use storm drains for disposing of automotive fluids, pesticides, paints, solvents, or other materials.
  • Compost yard waste or put leaves and grass clippings out for pickup by local trash company.
  • Check your vehicle for leaks, and recycle motor oil.
  • Pick up after your pet and properly dispose of pet waste.
  • Use fertilizers and pesticides sparingly and always read the instructions.
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To all of our many friends and cooperators:

After five years of service with Central Modoc RCD, and after careful consideration with Jan, I have decided to resign as Watershed Coordinator at the end of the year.

I am needed to care for my father who is in failing health, and I also am needed to attend to the hot spring that Jan and I hope someday to get into commercial service. These circumstances have kept me from giving 100% to my job, and I feel it is time for me to make room for someone who can go after it with fresh energy and ideas. I expect to be available as much as possible to help with the transition, and will continue in the future to help with occasional jobs as needed.

I support the work of CMRCD and the fine directors and staff that have made this one of the best teams I have ever been lucky enough to work with. To all of you who have helped me and the District through your contributions of time and expertise in the past, please accept my sincere thanks for all you have done. If I have had any success in this job, it is in large measure due to all the support I have received from so many landowners, agency representatives, and others who understood the important role of the District that I have been privileged to serve. I hope that you will continue to support CMRCD and its good work.

Cliff Harvey

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New Faces Join the CMRCD Team

We have a lot of new faces on the CMRCD's Board of Directors this year, and with these changes will come new ideas and new energy. We welcome Valerie Coe, Carol Sharp, Curt Talbott and Bill Valena to the board. These are your friends and neighbors who have participated in and supported CMRCD's work for years. Now, they have agreed to serve as volunteer directors.

This is a big responsibility and we hope the community will let these new directors know you appreciate their service. One of the best ways you can do this is by doing your part! Participate in CMRCD's conservation and education programs as a landowner - cooperator, as a donor, as a contributor of in-kind services, or just by showing up. By working together, we can make a difference.

A heartfelt thank you to the following resigning directors that have done an outstanding job dedicating many years of service as Directors to the Central Modoc Resource Conservation District:
David Hoxsey - 1989 to 2004
Chris Knoch - 1998 to 2004
Tim Martinez - 1992 to 2004
Larry Osborne - 1998 to 2004

One last important announcement: Our District Business Manager Laura Shinn gave birth to a beautiful little bundle of joy on June 22, 2004.

Welcome Madilyn Kenzie Shinn

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Central Modoc Resource Conservation District

Dick Mackey, President
David Hoxsey, Vice President
Valerie Coe, Secretary/Treasurer
Carol Sharp, Jerry Hoxsey, Bill Valena, Chico Pedotti & Curt Talbott (Associate Director)

Laura Shinn, Business Manager
Cliff Harvey, Watershed Coordinator
Blair Parrott, Project Coordinator
Paula Fields, Education Coordinator
Laura VanAcker, Education Coordinator

CMRCD meets the 3rd Tuesday of every month.
Anyone is welcome to attend!