Happy New Year from all of us at the Sierra Nevada Alliance!
Sierra Nevada Alliance would like to thank all of our supporters and partners for a great 2018! We look forward to what 2019 has in store and the impact we can collectively make to help create more resiliency for the future of the Sierras.
Today is the last chance for the TAX DEDUCTIVE giving! The Alliance is a 501(c)3 non-profit helping to protect and restore the Sierras. Start 2019 off with a fresh start and new beginnings! Donations can be made online with our digital platform to contribute to our funding or give one of our staff members a call! (530) 542-4546. We wish you health and happiness for a bright 2019!
Please donate here
SNAP Spotlight: American River Conservancy
Returning SNAP member Taylor Faye Benedict majored in Environmental Science with a focus on ecological restoration from Humboldt State University in May of 2017. After graduation, she was looking to gain experience in the field and make lasting professional connections when she was referred to ARC. She reached out to the American River Conservancy to gather more information about the restoration work they do locally and ended up getting hired. Rather than the usual path of becoming an AmeriCorps member, being accepted into the SNAP program and then vying for a sport at the host site, she knew she wanted to work for ARC and then got involved with SNAP.
Taylor Faye’s favorite contribution to ARC is helping write a management plan for one of the local ranches which includes a botanical survey of native plants growing on the property. During the early spring, ARC has a California Naturalist certification course to better acquaint the community with local varieties of plants and wildlife. ARC hosts the semi-final for Nature Bowl, a California state-wide student natural science competition in late April. American River Conservancy also runs nature camp, a 4 week program during the summer where children get exposed to the natural world and are introduced to basic aquatic ecology and wildlife biology. Taylor Faye also looks forward to returning to the river for the annual summer river cleanups that she leads out on the South Fork American River and taking part in the Great Sierra River Cleanup in September.
Major projects for the stewardship branch at ARC include continually working on the Giving Garden and Native Plant Demonstration Garden out at Wakamatsu Farm, sowing seasonally appropriate produce to donate to our local soup kitchen and food bank and tending to the variety of native grasses, shrubs and trees. Taylor Faye and volunteers have been working on restoring the riparian corridor off of the emergency spillway and the ~1 mile long trail that circles the lake at Wakamatsu with native tree plantings and wildflowers. Near Pollock Pines, stewardship staff works on continual habitat improvement for red-legged frogs with volunteers, helping to remove stubborn Himalayan blackberry bushes and planting natives to help control erosion on the steep banks and to keep invasive spread to a minimum. ARC has also been in the process of creating a multi-use public trail near Salmon Falls Ranch which included planting 70 oak trees as well as preparing/ maintaining a ~1 mile long trail called the Acorn Creek Trailhead. American River Conservancy held the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the trail opening on May 4th.
Having SNAP members hosted at American River Conservancy has allowed this small non-profit organization to accomplish more within the community both in the education and stewardship realms. With very few full time staff members, having two more competent full time people to be extra hands, voices and bodies can make a world of difference. Taylor Faye loves to work with plants and has many Wakamatsu Farm goals including creating an interpretive plant map/trail guide that would aid visitors in a self-guided naturalist walk around the lake at Wakamatsu.
New kid on the block Garrett Gust comes to ARC after completing his master’s degree on the East Coast. His studies of human and environment interactions makes him an excellent candidate to be ARC’s Education and Outreach Coordinator where he leads programs for students at Wakamatsu Farm. As ARC’s newest SNAP member, he has been very intrigued by the rich cultural history of the Farm and impressed that for nearly 30 years, the American River Conservancy has raised over $100 million dollars to protect roughly 26,000 acres.
Culture & Conservation at Wakamatsu Farm
The Upper American and Cosumnes watersheds have been the main priority for acquisition and restoration, but recently an interesting opportunity came to the ARC. In 2010 they purchased the 272-acre Wakamatsu Farm, a site on both the National and State Registers of Historic Places as the site of the first Japanese colony in the United States. These pioneers—samurai, their retainers, and common folk—bravely started a silk and tea colony, not to mention they opened up immigration to the United States from a Japan that valued tight borders. The colonists had been sent by a local lord who had recently been defeated in the Boshin War, a fierce battle which ushered the end of the traditional Edo period of Japan and paved the way for modernization agendas in the Meiji Restoration. They left their homeland to start something new—that new home was in the Sierra Foothills, just two miles from where gold was discovered in California
Said in not so many words, the strengths of Wakamatsu Farm are not in its ecosystem services, biodiversity, or its watershed contributions, although all of those things are present if not robust on site, thanks to the American River Conservancy. Its strengths are in culture, heritage, and narrative. It is this rich history that we interpret and offer to the public, alongside the natural environment at Wakamatsu. It is an essential example of the ways in which conservation and restoration are not exclusively about trees, plants, and wildlife, but also about relationships to the land. In conserving historical relationships to the land, as well as restoring the land itself, we at the American River Conservancy offer programming that weaves history and land use through time, crafting an engaging narrative and allowing us to encourage people to think about their own relationship to larger systems. In addressing complex problems like drought resiliency and climate change, it is essential that conservation and restoration organizations recognize how critical these relationships are, and work to cultivate them. During my short tenure thus far at ARC, I have found it deeply encouraging to run education programs in which culture and conservation meet.
This summer ARC is putting on a huge 4 day festival (June 6th-9th!) to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the first Japanese colonists from Aizu-Wakamatsu to make their home in America. It will be a celebration of all things Japanese and Japanese-American culture! Taylor Faye is helping organize volunteers for this event, please contact here
email@example.com if you are interested in signing up or check out our festival page https://www.arconservancy.org/wakafest150/
We hope to see you there!
Sierra Nevada Alliance Monthly Webinar Series: Watershed Coordinator Strategic Call
As you may know, California’s Department of Conservation has issued a Watershed Coordinator Grant Program. The grant will award six Watershed Coordinator Grants in the Sierra Nevada. At Sierra Nevada Alliance, we see this an exciting opportunity to work with organizations in the Sierra to craft proposals that will complement each other, and will result in the largest possible impact for our region. To this end, we will be hosting a Watershed Coordinator Strategic Call with the California Department of Conservation's Senior Environmental Scientist, Bruce Gwynne to both learn more about the grant, and discuss how we can craft complimentary proposals. If you are considering submitting a proposal for this grant, we would like to invite you to join this conversation on January 8th from 10:30-12:00. To join please sign up here. Login information will be automatically sent to you after you sign up. If you have any question please contact Sierra Nevada Alliance’s Education and Communication Director Sara Monson.