San Mateo, Calif., July 8, 2015 – The Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council (Stewardship Council), a land conservation and youth investment foundation, announces it is providing nearly $2 million in funding for enhancement projects on lands owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in the Hat Creek watershed in Shasta County.
These are the first major enhancement projects funded by the Stewardship Council’s historic Land Conservation Program, which seeks to conserve and enhance 140,000 acres of California’s watershed lands for the public good. The projects were developed through collective collaboration involving the Stewardship Council, CalTrout, the Pit River Tribe, Spring Rivers Foundation, PG&E, and other stakeholders.
“The projects planned for the Hat Creek watershed include important habitat restoration efforts on Hat Creek and Rock Creek, as well as improved public access and protections for cultural sites along the Hat Creek,” says Stewardship Council Board Chair Art Baggett. “They’ll also provide unique work experience and training opportunities for young people interested in resource conservation, restoration, and stewardship.”
In late June, Stewardship Council board members and staff joined with project sponsors to tour the project sites. Participants first viewed locations along Rock Creek near the Crystal Lake Fish Hatchery north of Cassel, where a meadow will be restored by the Spring Rivers Foundation to support the Shasta crayfish. They also learned how high school and college students will be provided with an opportunity to participate in this unique project.
In the afternoon, tour participants visited Hat Creek to view the site of the project sponsored by CalTrout and the Pit River Tribe. Here, tribal youth and a tribal workforce will enhance riparian habitat on the first stream to be designated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) as a Wild Trout Stream. The project will also enhance recreational opportunities in the area.
During the tour, Stewardship Council board member Pete Bell thanked the project partners for their efforts, adding, “This is a great opportunity for the Stewardship Council to help increase youth and young adult involvement in these lands and provide them with meaningful work experience.”
ENHANCEMENT PROJECTS BACKGROUND
Approximately $1.4 million of the Stewardship Council’s project funding will go to CalTrout and the Pit River Tribe to restore 1.5 miles of in-stream wild trout habitat and native vegetation along Hat Creek. The project will also build new trails, a pedestrian bridge, and scenic picnic area; enhance fishing opportunities; and protect several historic sites with new fencing, landscaping, and signage.
Finally, funds will help the Pit River Tribe continue a youth initiative and tribal workforce program, with assistance from the Lomakatsi Restoration Project. The Lomakatsi Restoration Project is a non-profit that develops and implements forest and watershed restoration projects in northern California and Oregon and currently works with the Pit River Tribe on other restoration projects.
“We are excited and grateful for the continued collaboration and support provided by the enhancement funds,” says Pit River Tribe Vice Chairman Isidro Gali. “Our tribal youth and continued generations will greatly benefit from this effort of reconnection to ancestral cultural areas.”
Andrew Braugh, Shasta-Klamath Regional Director for California Trout, adds, “The Stewardship Council’s grant support underscores what is possible when diverse partners commit to working together to achieve shared objectives and solve complex resource management challenges. With this project, we’re going to restore a legacy of fly-fishing in California, but more importantly, we’re working to re-connect the Illmawi Band of the Pit River Tribe as the long-term stewards of their ancestral lands on the banks of Hat Creek.” CalTrout also acknowledges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and CDFW for supporting the project, helping with design and facilitating the necessary permitting.
Meanwhile, another $550,000 will go to the Spring Rivers Foundation to restore a meadow that will support the Shasta crayfish, an endangered species. The project will restore and rewater approximately 650 feet of channel in Rock Creek to create habitat for the crayfish, which will be relocated from nearby existing habitat. The project will also provide fieldwork experience to youth and young adults as part of high school and university curriculum.
“After more than 15 years of building broad-based consensus and support from USFWS’ Recovery Division and Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, CDFW’s Region 1 biologists and hatchery personnel, PG&E, Ducks Unlimited, Spring Rivers Ecological Sciences LLC, and academia, the restoration work and youth initiative programs are set to begin this fall, thanks to the Stewardship Council,” said Dr. Maria Ellis of Spring Rivers Foundation. “Students from UC Davis and Fall River High School will be doing field work related to this project starting in just a few months!”
Ric Notini, the Stewardship Council’s Director of Land Conservation, adds, “the Enhancement Program supports mutually beneficial partnerships between environmental non-profits, public agencies, and Native American tribes.”
ABOUT THE HAT CREEK WATERSHED: Hat Creek in combination with Fall River, Burney Creek, Rock Creek, and other springs in the midreaches of the Pit River comprises one of the largest freshwater spring systems in the United States. These waters provide valuable habitat to a variety of aquatic species including native trout populations and the endangered Shasta crayfish. Hat Creek also serves as a vital source of traditional resources for the Pit River Tribe.
ABOUT THE PROJECT PARTNERS: CalTrout is a non-profit 501(c)(3) created to protect and restore wild trout, steelhead, salmon, and their waters throughout California.The Pit River Tribe is a federally recognized tribe made up of eleven autonomous bands with ancestral territory in the Hat Creek watershed. Spring Rivers Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) created to enhance natural systems and to protect the health and biodiversity of the environment with an emphasis on the native aquatic taxa of northern California.
ABOUT THE ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM: The Stewardship Council has developed its Enhancement Program to fund enhancement projects on watershed lands that will be retained by PG&E or donated to qualified entities. These projects will enhance one or more of the Stewardship Council’s six Beneficial Public Values: protection of the natural habitat of fish, wildlife, and plants; (2) preservation of open space; (3) outdoor recreation by the general public; (4) sustainable forestry; (5) agricultural uses; and (6) historic values. The projects could range from surveys, studies, and management plans to physical enhancements like restoration and trail building projects. Approximately $20-25 million will be available for enhancement grants. As the landowner, PG&E has been an integral partner in the development of these first enhancement projects.
ABOUT THE STEWARDSHIP COUNCIL: The Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council is a private, nonprofit foundation that was established in 2004 as part of a Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) settlement. The Stewardship Council has two goals: to ensure that over 140,000 acres of California’s pristine watershed lands are conserved for the public good through our Land Conservation Program, and to invest in outdoor programs that serve California’s young people through our Youth Investment Program. Bringing a broad range of interests and expertise to the Stewardship Council, our Board of Directors is made up of leading conservation, natural resource management, business, and public officials. The Stewardship Council is working collaboratively with the people of California on this historic effort. Learn more at www.stewardshipcouncil.org.