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Watersheds of the Modoc Spring 2002

A New Center to Showcase Modoc County's Natural Resources

With many committed partners and volunteers, Paula Fields the new CMRCD education coordinator is very excited to be coordinating the development of Modoc County's very own River Center. In December the CMRCD received $130,000 from the State Water Resources Control Board to begin developing an educational and informational center for schools and the general public.

The River Center will showcase natural resources in Modoc County by developing an appreciation for how a watershed affects and benefits the community. The center will house interactive displays featuring such as agriculture and the river, fisheries, watersheds and how they function, wildlife in the watershed, and a resource library for teachers, students and the public. Plans also include a native plants garden and an investigation station for students to study water samples from the Pit River.

"To the best of my knowledge, there are no interpretive facilities of any kind currently serving Modoc County. The River Center will fill that need," says Paula.

The River Center Development Committee invites anyone with ideas or an interest in the center to get involved in the planning process. Visitors are always welcome to stop by the center located at 136 West Henderson Street in Alturas. You may also reach Paula Fields at (530) 233-5085.

Volunteers are needed for the following committees:
  • Displays and Activities Subcommittee
  • Library and Research Subcommittee
  • Native Plants Garden Subcommittee

The grand opening for the The River Center is scheduled for January 2003.

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Pit River Watershed Alliance Kicks - Off Watershed Assessment

The Pit River Watershed Alliance (PRWA), a working group of private and public land managers, is just starting a three-year project to compile the first-ever watershed assessment for the entire Pit River basin above Fall River. CMRCD, and our neighbors at the Goose Lake, Pit/Big Valley, and Fall River Resource Conservation Districts are participating in this effort to ensure that private land concerns are addressed. We believe that an honest assessment can help us better manage our own watershed so that pressure for new levels of regulations can be headed off.

The goal of the Watershed Assessment is to prepare a balanced document that will serve as an educational tool to provide available information to stakeholders, build consensus within the watershed, and to provide a baseline for future action. The assessment will include a historical perspective and summary of physical and ecological conditions within the watershed.

Any old photos that show the landscape as it appeared in years gone by are vital to the success of this project. Even if its just an old photo of Uncle Bob and his new Packard, if the background shows a part of the countryside, then it's a piece of the puzzle. Please let us know if you have any images to contribute. We can scan your old photos at our office or in your home, so that these precious memories do not leave your possession.

VESTRA Resources, Inc, a consulting firm from Redding, was selected to conduct this assessment by the PRWA. VESTRA has a good record of working with the agricultural community, and has a lot of good people working with them. We are confident that they will do a good job for all of us.

Watch for public meetings coming soon to ensure that your voice is heard in this assessment process.

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It's All Tied Together...

We have a number of stream projects wrapping up right now, and are beginning the planning for several more. If you have conservation concerns on your property, the RCD is ready to work with you in solving them.

Our first step is always, you guessed it, monitoring. We collect as much information as we can about a site to help us come up with a range of possible actions. Then we work with the landowners to formulate a conservation plan that fits their needs. Then we assist in finding additional funding and dealing with the bureaucracies and permits and such. Finally, we work with landowners to manage conservation projects right through to the final reports.

Our list of cooperating landowners is growing all the time, and there's no reason you can't join it. We can't fix everything, and sometimes it takes a while to get a project going, but we sure try to assist everyone who asks.

The South Fork Pit River Riparian and Wetland Restoration Project is nearing completion, in cooperation with Likely Land & Livestock. Landowner John Flournoy says, "I'm glad to be a part of the program. It's giving us better water quality and wildlife habitat, it's cut down on erosion, and it's increased our acreage of productive land. We believe the taxpayers got good value for their money here."

Value to the taxpayers is enhanced even more when all of the landowner's time, materials, and expenses are added in. This project could not have happened without the major contributions from the Flournoys and Likely Land & Livestock.

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What is a Riparian Area and How Does it Work?

Healthy riparian areas are green zones along streams and rivers and around lakes, springs, and bogs.

Reasons Riparian Areas are Important:

  • Riparian vegetation stabilizes creek banks, protecting the soil from the erosive energy of raindrops and high flows.
  • Streamside vegetation improves water quality by serving as a natural trap to retain sediments during high flows.
  • Habitat is provided for fish and wildlife.
  • Woody streamside cover shades the water and reduces stream temperatures during the summer months which benefits cold water fish.
  • Riparian vegetation increases infiltration rate, getting water into the ground where it can be utilized rather than running off as overland flow that can erode soil.
  • These areas also play an important role in the rebuilding of degraded stream banks because the sediment trapped by the vegetation forms the physical basis for a new bank structure.
Degraded Riparian Area

Lowered water table

Poor water storage with downstream floods and reduced summer flows

Low vegetation productivity

Little shade - warm water

Poor water quality - poor fish habitat

Little vegetation to protect and stabilize banks

Low wildlife habitat diversity

Healthy Riparian Area

High water table

Good shade - cool water

Higher vegetation productivity

Good water quality - good fish habitat

High wildlife habitat diversity

Vegetation, including roots and debris, protects and stabilizes banks


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What Can We Do To Improve Riparian Areas?

Since riparian areas cross ownership boundaries we can work together to keep these unique areas healthy.

Research and experience have helped land managers and owners develop new management systems to protect and improve riparian areas. These include:

  • Rotating livestock to other pastures
  • Reducing numbers of livestock
  • Fencing to protect sensitive areas
  • Changing the time of year when riparian areas are used.

Buffers can be created around riparian areas to protect them from excessive use.

Where damage has been done, repairs can be made by:

  • Building in-stream rock or log structures to trap sediment, slow the stream and create fish habitat
  • Replanting willows or other fast growing species along banks, trap sediment and reduce water temperature to improve fish habitat.

For More Information
Check out these Web sites!
NRCS Conservation Reserve Program
Bureau of Land Management

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Central Modoc Resource Conservation District

Dick Mackey, President
David Hoxsey, Vice President
Chris Knoch, Treasurer
Jerry Hoxsey, Tim Martinez,
Larry Osborne & Chico Pedotti

Debra Betters, Admin. Assistant
Paula Fields, Education Coordinator
Cliff Harvey, Watershed Coordinator

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