Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

California Volunteers ‘Fool’ Mother Nature, Enhance Elk Habitat

Years ago there was old TV commercial that featured a commentator chatting with and then “fooling” Mother Nature. She wasn’t pleased and reacted by showing her wrath.

The truth is Mother Nature often needs some assistance in the form of land and wildlife conservation projects. For example, seven volunteers from the Mendo-Lake and Redwood Chapters of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently put in an estimated 60 hours of work to help elk and elk habitat northwest of Sacramento, California, in Colusa County. They teamed up to complete repair work on the second of two headcuts that were eroding riparian meadow habitat in Upper Craig Canyon on the Bureau of Land Management’s Bear Creek Unit or what’s more popularly known as the old Payne Ranch.

“Having the RMEF volunteers has been fabulous,” said Pardee Bardwell, retired BLM Cache Creek Natural Area Manager. “It’s a very remote site so getting equipment up there is difficult. The RMEF volunteers brought ATVs and we hauled wheelbarrows and trailers for the ATVs up there and that’s what they hauled the rock in. They did great.”

A headcut is an abrupt step or drop in a stream’s channel. In effect, it resembles a short cliff or bluff and oftentimes has a pool of water at its base. If erosion becomes too pronounced then the headcut will migrate upstream.

In this particular case, if left unchecked the gully erosion would continue to the point that the water table in the meadow could drop eight to ten feet. Such a drop would mean the roots of palatable meadow species, such as sedges and rushes, would no longer reach water and the habitat would change from a riparian meadow to dry upland grass and brush.

RMEF volunteers covered the lower headcut with a porous fiber material (felt) and filled it with rocks hauled by ATVs and wheelbarrows from a nearby boulder field. That effort will allow water to flow over the rock and prevent further erosion thus maintaining the riparian habitat. Volunteers repaired the upper headcut in 2013.

“The weather, both times, it was 99 or 100 degrees out there. It was a tough project but we got it done,” added Bardwell.

Is it nice to “fool” Mother Nature? Well, no complaints here.

Go here to learn more about becoming an RMEF volunteer.

1 comment:

  1. When we do it, we prefer to call it "guiding" mother nature ;)