Restoring meadow to recover Kern River rainbow trout
For the past couple summers CalTrout has been working on restoring Osa Meadow in the Sequoia National Forest. In winter 2016 the tractors went in and did some substantial restoration to the flood plain and stream channel. In 2017 CalTrout has been doing monthly monitoring to assess meadow conditions post restoration and also to collect green house gas samples as part of our GHG sampling program. Join field staff Levi Keszey and Janet Hatfield for a day in the Osa Meadow area.
Of the roughly 200,000 acres of meadows throughout the Sierra Nevada, somewhere between 40 to 60% are in a degraded state. Meadow systems create critical habitat and refugia for native wildlife, contribute greatly to our water security, and can help mitigate the effects of climate change. As part of our Sierra Meadows Partnership with a goal to restore 30,000 acres by 2030, we targeted Osa Meadow in the Kern River Ranger District within Seqouia National Forest for restoration. This is historic Kern River Rainbow trout habitat that has been in degraded condition for several years, even becoming bone dry at the height of the drought.
- Create greater ecological resilience of Osa Meadow to combat climate change and other stressors and promote recovery of Kern River rainbow trout populations.
- Study the cause-and-effect of meadow restoration on physical habitat, water quality and temperature, and the ability to sequester greenhouse gases.
On-the-ground restoration activities began September 2016 and was completed fall 2017. Two-thousand feet of stream habitat and surrounding Osa Meadow habitat was restored, benefiting listed species such as the mountain yellow legged frogs and downstream Kern River Rainbows, a form of golden trout. Restoration included reconnecting the incised stream channel to the historical floodplain which in turn raises the water table and creates a moist environment that is able to properly store and release precipitation.
CalTrout will continue to monitor the outcomes of these restoration actions under our more comprehensive CDFW Greenhouse Gas Research Project, through 2019. Immediate restoration results were observed in 2017, the most notable being much improved connectivity between groundwater and surface water interactions. Other data relative to meadow hydrology, vegetative growth, nutrient cycling, and carbon dynamics will continue to be collected and summarized as full datasets are compiled.