November 2023 Newsletter
Alpine Watershed Group protects, conserves, and restores the watersheds of Alpine County by promoting sustainable community and science-based collaborative solutions.
The GivingTuesday annual celebration of generosity is November 28. Please help AWG continue our good work into 2024 by making a donation. Thank you! 

Volunteers Pour Their Hearts into Reforestation

Thanks to our amazing volunteers and terrific partners, our October 21 tree planting event was a great success! The day started with information on the seedlings from Maria Mircheva from Sugar Pine Foundation, who generously provided the trees. Then Alpine County Wildfire Project Coordinator Clint Celio gave an overview of the Turtle Rock Park landscape, including the impacts from the Tamarack Fire and various treatment and restoration efforts. After a planting demonstration by Andy Lovell of Alpine Trails Association, the hard work began of shovels to soil. Volunteers worked diligently for three hours, planting and watering in over 700 trees along 600 yards on both sides of Millberry Creek. Although the planting site ended up being on Alpine County land, we are indebted to Annabelle Monti of the US Forest Service for working closely with AWG to make this tree planting opportunity a reality this fall.  

Ten days later, Forest Health Coordinator Wes Mosley and California Climate Action Corps Fellows Bella Kurtz and Kaitlyn Garber tagged and mapped a subset of the planted seedlings to monitor success and survivability into the future. This long-term monitoring project will help inform successful techniques and timing for future planting projects. Stay tuned for updates on this project.

Snapshot Day Back in Alpine County

AWG partnered with River Wranglers and Alpine County Library to lead a field trip to Hope Valley for Diamond Valley School (DVS) students grades 1–8 as part of Carson River Snapshot Day on October 13. Snapshot Day is an annual water quality monitoring event led by River Wranglers each fall throughout the Carson River watershed. On this day, students collect data from multiple locations along the Carson River in both California and Nevada to provide a "snapshot" of environmental conditions. DVS students learned about nonpoint source pollutants in watersheds, sampled water quality, completed a stream assessment survey, and spent some time nature journaling. After a hiatus of several years, AWG was thrilled to be able to put on this event for local students again. Thank you to Markleeville Library staff, Diamond Valley School, and River Wranglers for helping put on such a great day. And thank you to the AWG volunteer River Monitors who collected water quality samples at Hangman’s Bridge!

Climate Corner by Kaitlyn Garber and Bella Kurtz

Pallid Bat Named California State Bat: What’s Special About This Species?  

As we say goodbye to Halloween, we say hello to California’s new state bat! The pallid bat has especially long ears, pale fur, and a penchant for agave plants.

Bats are amazingly efficient mammals, and are essential to ecosystems because they pollinate plants, disperse seeds, and are natural pesticides! It was recently found that bats “eat enough pests to save more than $1 billion per year in crop damage and pesticide costs in the United States corn industry alone.” Bats have also been beneficial in mitigating wildfire, because they eat beetles that may otherwise kill trees and leave them to be fuel for wildfires.

Unlike birds and bees which pollinate during the day, bats pollinate crops and spread seeds during the night. Plants that are adapted specifically for bat pollination tend to have large and sturdy flowers that bloom during night hours. Pallid bats, which are considered insect-eating bats, were found to be more effective pollinators for the Cardon cactus in Baja California than the lesser long-nosed bat which specializes in nectar-feeding from these cactus flowers. 

Specifically, the pallid bat delivered 13 times as much pollen per visit to the flowers compared to the lesser long-nosed bat. The reason for this is because a pallid bat must plunge its head far into a flower in order to get to the nectar, unlike the lesser long-nosed bat which is able to use its long tongue for extracting the nectar. When the pallid bat plunges its head into flowers, it also accumulates a large amount of pollen on its head. This ability to collect larger amounts of pollen are what make the pallid bats important and unique pollinators.

Unfortunately, bats are especially sensitive to climate change. Because they are a keystone species, they interact with many moving pieces in their habitat. As climate change causes stressors, bats feel those effects. An increase in intensity of wildfires and droughts caused bats to change their migratory patterns, often expending more energy to find shelter. Increased durations of droughts have also limited their access to water, which has been shown to affect pregnant and nursing bat mothers more than other bats. This impacts their ability to reproduce and therefore harms their populations.

The good news is individual actions can greatly help these bats. One actionable item is to reduce your outdoor lights, because ambient light can alter a bat’s behavior. Another is to add a bat box to your backyard. Here is a link with some bat box designs. A third thing to do, and a fun one, is to provide them with plenty of insects to eat by gardening with native plants that pull these insects into your yard. To read more, see below!

Free Firewood

Downed trees from the Tamarack Fire are available as firewood at Turtle Rock Park Campground while weather permits. Trees are limbed but whole, no limit and no residential restrictions. Takers must sign waiver upon arrival.

Contact Clint Celio at for more details and to confirm operation hours.

We are grateful for the financial support of all who love Alpine County. We are able to lead volunteer workdays and field trips, support community science data collection, and host California Climate Action Corps Fellows because of your generosity. Thank you for elevating your gifts this giving season!


Ways to Connect or Help

We always love to hear from our watershed community! Below are email links to reach AWG's staff, or reach us at AWG's office at (530) 694-2327. Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Kimra McAfee, Executive Director
Rachel Kieffer, Headwaters Coordinator
Wes Mosley, Forest Health Coordinator
Kaitlyn Garber, Wildfire Restoration and Forest Resiliency Fellow
Bella Kurtz, Wildfire Restoration and Forest Resiliency Fellow

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Until next time!

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