Why do fish folk care about forest health? At CalTrout we believe wholeheartedly in the connectivity of natural systems.
June Mountain is in the Rush Creek watershed that feeds the iconic Mono Lake and delivers critical drinking water to the City of Los Angeles via the L.A. Aqueduct. For the last 10 years, the June Mountain area has been hit hard by Mountain Pine Beetle. With an estimated 70% mortality in much of the forest, the dead trees pose a threat of high severity wildfire to the community of June Lake and the hundreds of thousands of people who recreate there.
June is a destination vacation getaway where fishing, camping, and skiing make up the entire economy. We know that unhealthy, overstocked forests lead to high severity fires that are difficult, if not impossible, to contain and high fires are hard on fish. High severity fires combined with steep slopes (ideal for ski areas) can deliver heavy sediment loads to small mountain streams creating catastrophic effects to downstream aquatic life and significantly reducing water storage capacity of reservoirs.
Fire is identified as one of the top anthropogenic threats to inland species. They have the potential to wipe out entire populations through direct mortality, sedimentation and siltation of habitat, and destruction of riparian habitat, especially for species with very limited ranges. Climate change is likely to increase the risk of more frequent and intense fires throughout California in the future.
Wildfires are a natural component of California’s landscape. However, fire suppression, coupled with climate change, has made modern fires more frequent, severe and catastrophic. The transition from relatively frequent under story fires to less frequent, but catastrophic, crown fires can have a severe impact on fish habitat and wipe out populations with narrow habitat ranges.
CalTrout has partnered with the Inyo National Forest and the Mammoth Mountain Ski area to proactively address this forest health issue at June Mountain.
Stay tuned for project progress updates.