Aspen Regeneration

The Importance of Aspen

Sierra aspen are hot spots for biodiversity, provide critical habitat for native birds and are known for their beautiful fall color and the fluttering of their leaves on warm summer days. As SYRCL continues to work with the Tahoe National Forest on developing comprehensive meadow restoration plans, we focus on hands-on restoration activities directed at the enhancement of Sierra aspen stands by removing encroaching conifers. With altered fire regimes and hydrology, and a changing climate, conifers have begun to intrude on aspen stands and are outcompeting aspen for sunlight and water. Unfortunately, more than 96% of historic aspen stands have been lost due to fire suppression, conifer encroachment and other factors. SYRCL has completed several aspen regeneration projects and continues this work in the meadows of the Yuba watershed.

Aspen facts

  • Aspen typically live about 150 years.
  • Aspen reproduce primarily from asexual root sprouting.
  • Each colony is its own clone, and all trees in the clone have identical genetics, characteristics and share a single root structure.
  • Aspen stands support more species than surrounding conifer vegetation types.
  • It may take 3-4 years before aspen will sprout in a stand where conifers have been removed.

Volunteers and Aspen

Since 2011, SYRCL has partnered with the Tahoe National Forest to work with volunteers and remove encroaching conifers from aspen tree patches that were struggling for light. These efforts are ongoing and projects to monitor success and continue to remove conifers are active at Rucker Lake, Pierce Wetlands, Loney Meadows, and Butcher Ranch. Check out this video produced by Tony Loro highlighting this work:.

Funding

Funding for our aspen regeneration work has been provided by the Nevada County RAC, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Earthwatch, and the California Department of Water Resources through the Cosumnes American Bear Yuba Integrated Regional Water Management Group.