CITIZEN WATER QUALITY MONITORING
Four times each year, families, couples, and individuals have
collected important data at their adopted sites in the Watershed. The data has been compiled to tell an ongoing story of conditions in the watershed. Due to the loss of our monitoring equipment in the May 11 fire, our monitoring program has been modified. However, you can view the data
our citizen monitors have collected beginning in 2004.
BATTLING INVASIVE WEEDS
The Upper Merced River Watershed Council looks back on another season of successful weed removal in the Merced River Canyon. Funding for this project has been provided by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, an agency of the State of California. Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service are key partners in this project. They provide coordination and supervision of volunteer and contract labor as well as technical expertise.
The manual weed removal work took place in April, May, and June. Under a grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, the Upper Merced River Watershed Council hired California Department of Corrections (CDC) crews who worked under the adept leadership of Cal-Fire Captain Wes Jay, and American Conservation Experience (ACE) crews as well. The American Conservation Experience hosts volunteers from all over the world, who arrived trained and ready to work under knowledgeable leadership.
Italian thistle has joined yellow starthistle (YST) in spreading throughout much of our local area. The ACE crew spent two weeks removing Italian thistle in the Bureau of Land Management’s Merced River Recreation Area and Sierra National Forest in late April and early May. Camped near the North Fork, the crew was able to remove a large population of Italian thistle growing a mile up the North Fork drainage. They then hiked upriver along the railroad grade from Briceburg, removing populations as they were encountered. They also concentrated removal efforts in two drainages on BLM land: Good Gulch and Hall’s Gulch. These two areas have seen an increase in Italian thistle, and it is crucial to have hand crews consistently work them. The efficiency of the crew enabled them to cover several miles.
Beginning in late April, the CDC removed Italian thistle on the Wild & Scenic Trail. Starting at the North Fork, they worked upriver spending considerable time at a location that has one of the larger Italian thistle populations on the trail. There was much less Italian thistle this season than in 2011. Continuing where ACE left off, the CDC worked their way up Hall’s Gulch. A thorough job was done in other areas along the Briceburg Road as well as in a large riparian area below the Mt. King Mine.
Yellow starthistle emerges somewhat later than Italian, so in late May ACE crews returned to remove a large population along the railroad grade below the North Fork confluence with the main stem of the Merced River. They then hand-pulled YST between the road and the river on Incline Road in the El Portal area, from Red Bud to below Clearinghouse, under the guidance of Sierra National Forest Botanist, Joanna Clines. This area has a limited presence of YST because it has consistently been hand-pulled for several years. ACE also worked with Yosemite National Park to remove YST on the hillside above the road. CDC followed in early June to work from the North Fork confluence upriver, along the Wild & Scenic Trail and along the Briceburg Road.
According to Sierra National Forest Service Botanist Joanna Clines, who recently spoke in Midpines on the threat of noxious weeds to our nation, our state and our watershed, invasive weeds jeopardize native plant communities, livestock, recreational opportunities, and local economies. The Sierra Nevada Conservancy grant was awarded in 2010 to remove YST and Italian thistle from approximately 80 acres of sensitive riparian habitat and help stop the spread of these invasives. Individuals are encouraged to help curb the spread of invasive seeds by checking shoes, clothing, pets, and vehicle tires when leaving an infested area, and using certified weed-free gravel, fill and stock feed. For more information on California invasive weeds, visit www.cal-ipc.org.