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2018 Hammon Bar Monitoring Update

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SYRCL implemented the first habitat restoration project  on the lower Yuba River in 2011 and 2012, by planting over 6,500 willow and cottonwood trees and shrubs at Hammon Bar. Each year, SYRCL returns to Hammon Bar in order to assess the restoration project and track how quickly the plantings are growing.

In 2017, 10 volunteers spent 95 hours of hot, rewarding work to monitor this project. Together we bushwhacked among the willows, tromped across cobble embankments and ultimately completed all of our monitoring tasks. This year marks the sixth year of successful monitoring at Hammon Bar on the Lower Yuba River. We couldn’t have done it without our awesome and dedicated volunteers like YOU!

Why is the project important?

Hammon Bar was the first restoration project in the Lower Yuba River and today it serves as proof that restoring the floodplains along the river can work. The goal of this 5 acre project was to improve floodplain habitat that fish use during high flow periods. Juvenile salmon use floodplains as a refuge from swift moving water in the main river channel. Increasing riparian vegetation cover on the bar, provide fish habitat and potential food sources.

By increasing surface roughness, this vegetation acts to slow water down, provide cover from predators, and increase food availability by adding plant litter, roots, and substrate complexity to the bar. In addition, this project has created floodplain geomorphic and hydraulic complexity, trapping finer grained sediments that should support plant recruitment in the future.

Where does the project stand today?

Each year, SYRCL and a team of volunteers count and measure each tree planted, to determine how many trees are still alive, how much they have grown, and how much sediment and debris is building up behind and around these trees as they grow and slow down water.

This year, volunteers worked in teams to identify, measure, and record survivorship and growth in planted cottonwoods and willows. One team member identifies the species and determines whether it is alive or dead, while the other volunteer records the data and measures the tree’s height and the diameter. Although the data for 2018 has been collected, it has not yet been analyzed. However, results from previous years monitoring efforts can be found here.

With the help of our dedicated citizen scientists over the past month, we have been able to collect a large amount of data at Hammon Bar.  If you missed out on Hammon Bar this year and have a hankering to bushwhack among the willows, wade through rivers and frolic around meadows, then join SYRCL’s Restoration Team this summer! Please contact Karli Foreman, Restoration Coordinator, at karli@yubariver.org or 530.265.5961 ext. 216 for more information.

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