Protecting the Wild and Scenic Tuolumne River with community involvement

This year, Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership (SNAP) member Holly Heath has been working with Tuolumne River Trust (TRT) as the Sierra Nevada Restoration Specialist. Holly helps with a variety of restoration projects involving meadow health, trail maintenance, and restoration projects along the Wild and Scenic stretch of the Tuolumne River. Holly also helped with TRT’s big fundraiser, River Fest, in San Francisco.

Holly and her supervisor Julia Stephens lead kids in a ‘salmon parade’ through River Fest.

During her term, Holly and fellow SNAP member Tyler, with the help of their Supervisor Julie Stephens, wrote a grant for TRT through River Network and recently learned that their projects will be funded through February 2025. The grant focuses on projects on or around Wild and Scenic rivers. In the 1980’s TRT successfully achieved Wild and Scenic designation for 83 miles of the Upper Tuolumne River and has been working to restore riparian areas of the river that have been degraded by a combination of dredge mining and wildfires.

Holly working hard on the River Network grant for TRT.

A major part of the grant funding will go towards environmental education and backcountry experience for students near TRT’s Modesto office. Many of these students have few opportunities for outdoor and backcountry experiences. The funding will allow groups of students to join TRT on a commercial rafting trip along the Tuolumne River and give them the chance to help to plant willows and other riparian plant species along the river while camping out. Students will gain experience in environmental science and outdoor recreation.

The grant will also fund the collaboration of TRT and a local Me-Wuk tribe for riparian restoration work along the Tuolumne River. The tribe hopes to expand its volunteer base and build experience in restoration. TRT hopes to develop more projects with the tribe in the future as well.

TRT is also taking part in the Great Sierra River Cleanup and regularly plans and executes volunteer work days for restoration and trail work along the Tuolumne River. Grant funding is always needed for these projects, and the River Network grant is a great way to do so. Holly has enjoyed learning how to develop and submit a grant and is very excited about making these projects happen during the remainder of her SNAP term.

Volunteers and SNAP members pose on Indian Creek Trail after a good day’s work.

TRT works to restore, educate and advocate for and around the Tuolumne River. This grant will help TRT continue its restoration & trail work along the Tuolumne, educate students about the importance of local river ecosystems, develop a collaborative, mutually beneficial relationship with a local tribe, and increase awareness of the issues around the Tuolumne River among diverse members of the communities that live along it.

The Sierra Nevada is home to many diverse ecosystems that provide essential benefits to not only humanity but to the water cycle in California and the health of plant and animal species. Holly feels lucky to have grown up in the Sierra Nevada and has a strong connection to the mountains of her home.

Holly working to clear a small downed tree on the historic Hamby trail in Groveland, CA.

Funding for SNAP is supported by Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation’s Nature Fund and Martis Fund – a collaborative project of Martis Camp landowners, DMB/Highlands Group (the developers of Martis Camp), Mountain Area Preservation Foundation (MAP), and Sierra Watch. Sierra Nevada Alliance is a proud grantee of AmeriCorps and California Volunteers, Office of the Governor.

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