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Past projects

DUTCH flat creek

Excavator starts removing soil in Dutch Flat Creek

This project addressed the issue of abandoned floodplains on reaches of Dutch Flat Creek and North Fork Ash Creek that cross the ranch. These streams were channelized decades ago for agricultural purposes. Downcutting and lateral erosion of the channel began and continues today. This in turn increased runoff rates and dried what was once a wet meadow.

On the Dutch Flat Creek reach, the project built on the natural tendency of the stream to widen much of the gully and create an inset floodplain surface for the dissipation of flood flows. The goal was to speed the natural recovery and create a stable stream system that mimics stable natural conditions in most ways except width of floodplain and water surface elevation. This plan did not restore the historic groundwater elevations. It did, however, provide a more stable natural stream channel and conveyed flood flows below the historic floodplain without risk to structural improvements or ranch operations. The Species benefiting from habitat improvements include redband rainbow trout (Calif. sensitive species), Modoc sucker (Federally listed endangered species), waterfowl and various neotropical migrant birds.  This project was funded by Proposition 13, EPA 319h, and USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife funds.

North Fork Ash Creek

Ash Creek Wildlife Area

This project addressed the issue of abandoned floodplains on reaches of North Fork Ash Creek and Dutch Flat Creek that cross the ranch. These streams were channelized decades ago for agricultural purposes. Downcutting and lateral erosion of the channel began and continues today. This in turn increased runoff rates and dried what was once a wet meadow.

On the North Fork Ash Creek, the project implemented the pond and plug technique.  This involved filling the incised gully on part of the creek, and creating a pond at the upper end that re-established flood plain connection.  This project will raise the local water table; reduce the rate and intensity of water runoff from the ranch, and significantly improving aquatic and riparian habitat quality. The Species benefiting from habitat improvements include redband rainbow trout (Calif. sensitive species), Modoc sucker (Federally listed endangered species), waterfowl and various neotropical migrant birds.

PK deforest ranch

Irrigation pasture PK Deforest Ranch

Paul and Karen DeForest own 6,468 acres in Ash Valley that they use for livestock and hay production.  The previous landowner identified portions of their land that they wanted to improve and applied for grant funds through EQIP and the Pit RCD.   Several projects were funded and Paul and Karen “inherited” them as part of the property transaction.

Habitat types occurring on their property include grassland, wet meadow, sagebrush scrub, and juniper woodland.  Ash Creek flows through their property for an estimated linear length of two miles.   An estimated 400 acres of their grassland and wet meadow is irrigated by diverting water at the eastern end of their ownership into a conveyance ditch.  The pasture is flood irrigated by gravity flow and the water does not re-enter Ash Creek.

To date, the Pit RCD assisted them with the: 1) installation of roughly 1,320 feet of fencing along the northern portion of their property and roughly 2,700 feet of fencing along the southern portion to better manage livestock along Ash Creek; and 2) installation of a “water gap” in the newly southern fenced area.

These projects, when combined with other projects with NRCS, have improved habitat conditions throughout the ranch.  These improvements include more vigorous aquatic and riparian vegetation along Ash Creek, and improved pasture management for livestock with the installation of an offsite watering structure and development of springs used for livestock water.  In addition, roughly 3,250 feet of fence was built along Ash Creek as part of a Wildlife Habitat Improvement Project (WHIP) in 2002.  NRCS plans to assist the landowner with rangeland planting and juniper treatment in the future.

rose creek canyon

Post construction view of Rose Creek

Rose Creek Canyon is a tributary to the Pit River.   The project site is approximately one mile east of the Bieber/Lookout road on the Shaw Ranch in Modoc County, California. The Shaw Ranch, Lookout Stock Association, and USDA Forest Service (USFS) are joint owners of the project area. Like many tributary streams and associated meadows in the region, Rose Canyon Creek is deeply incised (see image to the right) and contributes large amounts of sediment downstream into its lower reaches and eventually into the Pit River.

The incised channel and sediment issues in Rose Creek Canyon have a direct effect on habitat values within the meadow, downstream in the creek, and in Pit River. The incisement has resulted in the transition from meadow vegetation (e.g. grasses and sedges) to a sagebrush community with occasional trees (e.g. western juniper and pine) as well as water table degradation. The stream channel had narrowed and consisted of more shallow water habitat. Additionally, substrate within the channel lacked habitat diversity.

Several occurrences in the last century have resulted in Rose Creek Canyon changing course and building a new, deeply incised channel. These occurrences have included debris flows from a fire in the late 1940s, and more recently, debris flows from the 1997 floods. Grazing and road use may also have affected the channel stability.

The goals of the landowners were to restore Rose Creek Canyon to its original channel, reduce the loss of land and sediment downstream, and restore meadow vegetation.  This was achieved by implementing the pond and plug technique.  The landowners worked with the Pit Resource Conservation District (Pit RCD) to complete this project. Cooperative agencies (i.e., U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service), and private partners (i.e., Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Lookout Livestock Association) also assisted with permitting, technical assistance, and funding.  Other grant monies used to implement the project included Proposition 13, EPA 319h, and USFWS Partners for Wildlife.

shaw ranch

Shaw Ranch project on the Pit River

The Shaw Ranch Restoration Project addresses bank erosion and riparian vegetation along the Pit River. The project is located on the Shaw Ranch near the town of Lookout in southwestern Modoc County.  The Shaw Ranch contains over 2.5 miles of the main stem Pit River that slowly meanders through Big Valley.  The Shaw Ranch has a history of progressive, innovative resource stewardship practices and is a model for other local ranches. 

The goal of this project is to serve as a demonstration project for the Pit RCD regarding bank erosion along the Pit River.  The project will benefit water quality by preventing valuable land loss due to accelerated rates of erosion, reducing sediment loading, minimizing nutrient loading, increasing dissolved oxygen, and lowering water temperatures.  The project will also enhance pool habitat in the mainstem Pit River to benefit native riverine fishes, including redband trout and hardhead.  

The project included the placement of J-hook rock vanes and vegetative planting to stabilize approximately 1000 linear feet of main stem Pit River. Construction conducted during the fall of 2005 and 2006 placed ten J-hook vanes and treated approximately 1,300 of linear feet along the Pit River.  Initial evaluation of their function appears successful, as the treated banks did not erode during high flood flows after the first year of construction.  

This project was funded through Proposition 13, EPA 319h, and NRCS grant programs.

twin pine ranch

Stream banks eroded on Twin Pine Ranch

Twin Pine Ranch is a 560-acre ranch located approximately two miles south of Adin, CA, Lassen County.  The ranch consists of a rangeland (grassland, sagebrush, juniper woodland) and cultivated fields.  Angus cattle and Quarter Horses are also raised on the ranch.  Two tributaries flow through the ranch and are tributaries of Ash Creek.   The more “southern” tributary is slightly downcut and showing signs of channel instability.  This project stabilized approximately 1,500 feet of the channel by creating a “grassy swale” around the channel, installing three grade control structures, and fencing both sides of the swale to provide channel protection from livestock. 

In addition to the work in the grassy swale, two reservoirs occur on the property that are used to water livestock.  Both had very little vegetation around them, as they were the primary water source for livestock on the ranch.  The project created more pastures near the reservoirs by building new fences around them and placing offsite-watering structures to provide stock water.  The project also improved one of the dams and spillway channel.  Specifically, the east reservoir had developed a gully where the spillway was located.  This gully was filled and a new spillway was created that will improve channel conditions below the spillway and result in more natural channel and water quality conditions.  The south reservoir had minor channel instability and this area received passive restoration from reduced grazing pressure.  Vegetation around each reservoir was encouraged through planting and both are expected to provide improved habitat for sandhill cranes, waterfowl, and other waterbirds.

The watering structures placed near the reservoirs are supplied with water from solar pumps placed in existing wells. 

This project was funded through Proposition 13, EPA 319h, and USFWS Partners for Wildlife.

McBride Springs

The McBride Springs/Willow Creek Project was a restoration and fuels management project designed to improve water quality, restore the ecosystem function, reduce fire hazard, and improve productivity.  The pond and plug technique was used to address erosion and reconnect the channel to the flood plain.  Juniper trees and other invasive plant species were removed to improve the aquatic resources.

Ash Creek

Ash Creek

This was the first of three phases for a large scale restoration project on the Ash Creek Wildlife Area.  The project purpose was to restore the function of the channel floodplain system to improve water quality and flow conditions while enhancing riparian and aquatic habitats and to improve the productivity of the meadow system.  The entire project will restore approximately 2,400 acres along 140,000 linear feet of channel. Phase I was completed in 2012. Phase II construction was successfully completed in 2013. The final phase for the large scale restoration project on the Ash Creek Wildlife Area was completed in the fall of 2014.

Kramer ranch

1,900 acres were treated with thinning and mastication for forest health and fuels loading.

Butte Creek

Butte Creek

Lookout WUI Shaded Fuelbreak

Upper Pit River Watershed Restoration

The Butte Creek project is a pond and plug project that restored the historic meadow and improve water quality while improving the productivity of agriculture products on a working ranch.  This project restored approximately 4.3 miles of linear stream channel which will improve an estimated 105 acres.

The project completed a 2 ½ mile long shaded fuel break to protect the community of Lookout from wildfire.  The fuelbreak is up to ¼ mile in depth in some locations and ties into a previously treated section in a 6,000 acre project area.  The intent is to remove crown closure and slow advancing fire. Project was completed in 2017.

This project improved forest health with the mastication of selected trees and brush on 900 acres of land that was overstocked and fuel laden.  Project was completed in 2018.

Black Mtn Forest & Watershed Restoration  

Shasta Forest Timberlands, LLC and Modoc National Forest lands were treated within this project.  1,971 acres were treated with biomass thinning to reduce tree mortality effects from wildland fire, reduce overstocking to promote healthy forest growth and provide improved wildlife habitat. This project will be completed fall of 2019.

Taylor & Willow Creek, Pit River Tailwater Recovery

Taylor and Willow Creek

This project converted open ditch water conveyance systems to pipeline systems on three private landowner properties.  Water conservation was the priority and an approximate 26% rate was achieved with the conversion. Project was completed in 2018.

Cove Fire Salvage

Wood piled at the Cove Salvage

In 2017, over 30,000 acres on the Modoc National Forest were destroyed by wildfire.  The RCD has worked with the forest under an existing Master Stewardship Agreement to implement a small scale restoration project.  The project is removing hazard timber along roadsides and salvage timber within two specifically identified areas of the burn. Reforestation will occur within these same areas and the project is expected to be completed in 2020.

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