It was a crisp Saturday morning on October 9th, seven SYRCL volunteers showed up to the high country of Loney Meadow, which sits at 6,000 feet in elevation, to help SYRCL scientists in protecting critical aspen stands. Loney Meadow is home to one of SYRCL’s meadow restoration projects that helps to restore habitat for many birds, shrubs, meadow vegetation, and wildlife in addition to the aspen stands themselves.
The South Yuba River Citizens League has been involved in aspen restoration for over 5 years, with a Yuba River watershed-wide aspen assessment currently underway. Although aspen communities comprise only a small fraction of Sierra Nevada forests, they provide an outsized role in biodiversity, similar to riparian areas. In addition to habitat, aspen stands provide ecosystem services that affect surrounding ecological communities both directly and indirectly including landscape-scale fire resilience, and improved water quality.
In the spring, scientists and volunteers placed fencing around the aspen stands in Loney Meadow to protect young suckers (young aspen shoots that form groves) from over-browsing by deer and cattle. Protective fencing gives them a chance to grow tall enough to thrive.
Volunteers came back with us last month to remove the fencing before winter. This prevents the fence from being distorted under the weight of snow. They also learned a bit about our aspen work here at SYRCL.
One volunteer remarked, “SYRCL explained the science and overall goals behind what we were doing, which I really appreciated. We were also able to run transect lines which was an added bonus! It was really cool to be involved in the science, and Mary and Monique were so patient and thorough in explaining what we were doing, answering all our questions, and dropping knowledge. I felt included and respected as a volunteer.”
The Aspen team spent the last bit of the morning bonding over a shared appreciation for aspen trees and the great outdoors while sipping hot drinks and nibbling pastries.
SYRCL wants to thank the seven volunteers who joined Forest Conservation Coordinator, Mary McDonnell, and River Education Manager, Monique Streit, on this beautiful fall day to help remove cattle exclusion fencing for the winter. The help of our volunteers ensures that we can reinstall this fencing next spring to continue the protection of these vital aspen groves.
Read more about SYRCL Aspen Regeneration projects and meadow restoration work here.