Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) member Peter Schadlich is working with American Rivers as the Headwaters Assessment and Monitoring Field Technician. Peter primarily works on meadow assessment in the Caldor fire footprint to assess post-fire meadow conditions and prioritize sites for restoration.
This Summer, Peter and the American Rivers Headwaters Team, as well as the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California and community volunteers, monitored meadows in the Caldor Fire footprint with scorecard assessments, providing initial impressions about meadow sites within the footprint of the fire.
Degraded meadow conditions provide insight related to historical human impacts (infrastructural impacts like bridges or culverts, historical grazing practices, etc.) or fire burn intensity. These impressions offer critical data points for future and potential meadow restoration projects, which is a critical piece of the process. The 2021 Caldor fire burned 270,000 acres on both the west and eastern slope of the Sierra Crest, becoming the first of its kind. In partnership with Eldorado National Forest, American Rivers hopes to identify meadow restoration priorities and advance a shovel-ready meadow restoration project to mitigate the negative watershed effects of the Caldor Fire.
Sierra meadows are ecologically vital to California’s fluvial system. They provide habitat for some of California’s rare and endangered species (like the Great Grey Owl and the Willow Flycatcher) and provide an important utility for water demands. American Rivers is helping to restore meadows in the Sierra Nevada to help ensure longstanding watershed health. This appeals to the broader tenets of the American Rivers mission: to protect and restore waterways that sustain and connect us.
The quintessentially rugged peaks of the Sierra have been the focus of pioneers, explorers, and outdoors people for generations, often considered one of the wonders of the natural world by famous photographer Ansel Adams. Among the rare and endangered species present in meadow systems, the Sierra Nevada is home to over 200 species found nowhere else in the world that are listed as rare or threatened. Preservation and restoration efforts are critically important to coexisting within this wild space by creating opportunities to admire its beauty and to conserve resources that provide utility on a large scale.