December 2023 Newsletter
Alpine Watershed Group protects, conserves, and restores the watersheds of Alpine County by promoting sustainable community and science-based collaborative solutions.

Why donate to Alpine Watershed Group?

As the below highlights reflect, 2023 was a banner year for AWG. By adding a Forest Health Coordinator staff position and hosting two California Climate Action Corps Fellows, we have been able to increase our monitoring and community engagement programs. Please help AWG continue to expand our conservation work in Alpine County in 2024 by making a year-end gift. Your local watershed group depends on donations in addition to grants. Donations support us in writing the grants for larger projects. They also directly support coordinating and reporting on water quality monitoring, hosting community restoration workdays, working with partner organizations, and expanding watershed stewardship through public meetings and tabling at events.
Thank you to all who have already made a year-end gift to Alpine Watershed Group!

Highlights from 2023
In 2023, 265 AWG volunteers contributed 705 hours to steward Alpine County’s watersheds.
At our annual Creek Day event, 52 volunteers worked at five project sites—approximately nine miles of land—hauling out trash, thinning vegetation to reduce fuels, and building a beaver dam analog (BDA).

On October 21, volunteers planted over 700 trees at Turtle Rock Park where the land was severely burned in the Tamarack Fire.

Creek Day BDA Installation - Faith Valley
Arbor Day Tree Planting - Turtle Rock Park
October Volunteer Tree Planting - Turtle Rock Park
Creek Day - T-post Removal - Hope Valley
Creek Day - River Cleanup - Woodfords Canyon
Creek Day - Vegetation Management - Grover Hot Springs State Park
We trained five new River Monitors! This year we had a total of 21 River Monitor volunteers who sampled water quality at eight sites in March, June, August, and September.

Our staff monitored seven river miles and 70 acres applying a variety of monitoring techniques including vegetation monitoring, photo points, and seedling survivability surveys.

River Monitoring - Red Lake Creek
River Monitoring - Hangman's Bridge
Common Stand Exam Survey - Grover Hot Springs State Park
Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring - Red Lake Creek
Watershed Monitoring - Musser & Jarvis Watershed
Aspen Monitoring - Hope Valley
Photo Monitoring - Hope Valley
Beaver Monitoring - Faith Valley
Meadow Assessment - Chicken Flat Meadow
Education and Community Outreach
AWG led a field trip to Hope Valley for 55 students from Diamond Valley School for Snapshot Day.

AWG participated at 20 community events, including tabling at The Market at Markleeville, sorting recyclables at Death Ride, and hosting a bar at the Woollystar Music Festival.

AWG began hosting two California Climate Action Corps Fellows. Through next August, Kaitlyn and Bella will help Alpine County address the effects of climate change and improve wildfire resiliency.

Carson River Coalition Agriculture Tour - Ace Hereford Ranch & Woollystar Ranch
Eagles and Agriculture
South Lake Tahoe Earth Day
Woollystar Music Festival
Aspen Festival - Hope Valley
Snapshot Day with Diamond Valley School - Hope Valley
Workshops and Trainings
Meadow Assessment Training with American Rivers - Grover Hot Springs State Park
Meadow Assessment Training with USFS - Thompson Meadow
Native Plant ID - Grover Hot Springs State Park
Coming Up in 2024
We will help the Forest Health Community Working Group organize more community events to work toward a more resilient forest.

We will coordinate with a consultant to map sediment inputs along the Upper West Fork Carson River and develop a list of prioritized projects.

We will finalize the project design for the Markleeville Creek Floodplain Restoration Project. Funding for construction is secured, and the project will proceed following the sewer upgrade project.

Kaitlyn and Bella prune willow at the Dresslerville Community

Willow Thinning with WEPD

Over the last few weeks, AWG team members assisted the Washoe Environmental Protection Department (WEPD) in managing a stand of willow near the Dresslerville Community outside of Gardnerville. The project spanned just under two acres, and the intention was to maintain the willow in order to promote the best possible new growth for basket weaving. Because willow branches have many fine, delicate layers, the best way to prune the willows while preserving their structural integrity is by using hand loppers to preserve the layers. So, over the course of about six working days, every willow bush in the area was pruned down to the ground with loppers. In addition to encouraging the correct regrowth of the willow plants by pruning, burn piles were also arranged and are set to be burned in early to mid-January, when there is snow on the ground. In spring, after the piles have been burned, WEPD intends to use prescribed fire in order to reduce the fuels that are left on the ground, and to re-introduce fire to the willow shrubs on the landscape. According to the WEPD, burning of the freshly cut willow plants will promote the best possible growth of these special plants for basket weaving. WEPD Environmental Specialist Kevin Rogers also shared that WEPD intends to interplant the area with a greater variety of traditionally useful plants, like elderberry. AWG immensely appreciated this chance to collaborate with and learn from WEPD, and we look forward to seeing how the landscape benefits from this management.  
Completed burn piles at the Dresslerville Community outside of Gardnerville
California Climate Action Corps fellows at the 2023 training

Climate Corner by Kaitlyn Garber and Bella Kurtz

Looking Back on California's Climate Action Progress  

As California faces a changing climate, the last few years have seen a lot of progress in preparing for that change. As fellows with the California Climate Action Corps, we know just what it takes to make a difference.
The state recently released a 2022 progress report for its California Climate Action Strategy. Among the highlighted achievements were “projects that advance climate resiliency for communities that have experienced climate-related traumas,” “updated Wildfire Smoke Considerations for California’s Public Health Officials to strengthen public health officials’ ability to protect communities and vulnerable individuals from the adverse health effects of wildfire smoke,” and allocating “a record $2.8 billion over three years for new wildfire resilience projects across the state. This includes 40 programs across 22 departments that proactively reduce risks of catastrophic wildfire before wildfires strike.” These outcomes reflect the state’s priorities to protect vulnerable communities from increasing climate risk, strengthen the resilience of our natural systems, and incorporate the best available climate science.  
While California as a state is making large steps to combat climate change, we as California Climate Action Corps Fellows are part of a cohort of about 350 that are making small but tangible impacts in our communities. Since 2020, we have helped our communities to achieve:
  • 13,719 trees planted or donated
  • 100.52 acres treated for wildfire resiliency
  • 3,544,162 pounds of food and organic waste diverted from landfills
  • 11,611 volunteers engaged
California has made incredible progress in the last few years in preparing our communities for climate change. As Climate Action Fellows, we’re excited for what’s to come in the next year. California has set goals for 2023 to continue their Climate Action Strategy. Five states have also announced joining California in creating their own Climate Action Corps, so hopefully next year will see similar results in other states and the continuation of all the progress we’ve made so far.
Not a Goodbye!
From vegetation monitoring of the Musser and Jarvis watershed restoration to meadow assessments throughout the Tamarack Fire burn scar, I have kept a busy schedule over the last six months. As some have already heard, I have been offered and accepted a regional manager position with a vegetation management company covering the western US. For those of you that know me and my background, this position sits squarely in my wheelhouse, and I am very excited for what the future holds. I will certainly miss my time with AWG and appreciate the relationships that were formed both in the office and throughout the community. Alpine County has always been and will continue to be cherished as my own backyard, and I hope to cross paths with you all again soon.
This is not a goodbye but a see you around!

--Wes Mosley

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!

AWG has earned a 2023 Gold Seal of Transparency with Candid! Check out our Nonprofit Profile here

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
Kaitlyn Garber, Wildfire Restoration and Forest Resiliency Fellow
Bella Kurtz, Wildfire Restoration and Forest Resiliency Fellow

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