Westwood High students and teachers at the end of a community service clean up day during the summer at the Mountain Meadows Gateway Property in Westwood. Photo submitted

Conservancy reaches out to friends, supporters

The winter storms finally arrived after weeks of persistent high pressure and dry conditions. We wanted to provide you with updates on our efforts to advocate for the lands and waters of our region, while also working with partner organizations to help our rural communities to become more resilient to the winds of change.

One of our major projects this year has been the Lassen/Lake Almanor Regional Trails project. This truly collaborative effort continues to progress, thanks to the efforts of a core group of dedicated folks who have invested hundreds of volunteer hours to engage with local residents and their communities and to help to draft a conceptual trail plan for our region.

With our partners we hosted three landscape architects in July for a regional design workshop. After touring to selected sites from our proposed trail network with the architects and interested members of our communities, the architects created artistic renderings of future amenities including camp areas, trailheads, signs and other design elements that we can use to help guide the development of our future trail network.

A community event was held to provide the architects a platform to share their vision with local community members. We appreciated the support provided by the National Park Service Rivers Trails and Conservation Assistance Program over the past two years to move this project along. Partner organizations in this effort include Almanor Recreation and Parks District, Lassen County, United States Forest Service, Feather River Land Trust and Lassen Land and Trails Trust. We hope to release our conceptual trail plan to the public by the end of the year.

One of the sites included in this plan is the Indian Ole Dam at the Mountain Meadows Reservoir. MMC received project funding from the Pacific Forest and Watershed Stewardship Council in 2018 to help our community improve access to this site and to develop basic amenities there to make it easier for all of us to enjoy the place.

We are now working our way through the permitting and licensing process with Lassen County and with the landowners, Pacific Gas & Electric. With your help, we hope to build trails, install benches and picnic tables, improve the parking area and install a permanent vault toilet on the site in 2020.

We have been working with local Maidu families to develop interpretive materials to show the public the Maidu relationship with Mountain Meadows. There will be information about “Indian Ole” Salem, a great Maidu who homesteaded on allotments on the East Shore of Lake Almanor and is the namesake of the dam. We will be developing interpretive materials related to the construction of the dam, and the subsequent inundation of the Mountain Meadows in the 1920s by the Red River Lumber Company. This is a great project, and we welcome your volunteer assistance with construction and financial support to make this project happen.

The Friends of Mountain Meadows group gathers two-to-three times per year at Indian Ole Dam, as we have done since the Mountain Meadows Reservoir was drained in September 2015. We use these meetings to learn more about the land management decisions that are made by local landowners, PG&E and government agencies and how those actions affect the watershed.

We have a core group of local residents who attend the meetings to share stories, observations, concerns and thoughts about the area. Please be sure to join us. Your generous support helps MMC to be able to coordinate this group.

On June 1, we partnered with the Feather River Land Trust to host a gathering at the Indian Ole Dam to acknowledge FRLT’s completed conservation easement on the 7,000 acre Mountain Meadows Planning Unit owned and operated by PG&E. The conservation easement took over a decade to complete. It ensures that the property will never be subdivided and that it will be open space accessible to the public forever.

The party then moved into Westwood to the Mountain Meadows Gateway Property to acknowledge the purchase of the property, a project that MMC and its supporters facilitated and helped to fund.

We are so very grateful to have such a good relationship with our local land trust.

A lot has been done to clean up the Gateway property in 2019. A public parking area will be opened in 2020 and will provide improved access to the stunning shoreline of the reservoir.

Local MMC supporters provided nearly $20,000 to the project. We are thrilled to be involved with this exciting project. We see it and the other projects that we are working on as a perfect embodiment of our mission: To conserve, protect, and enhance the natural beauty of Mountain Meadows watershed, to protect its significant Mountain Maidu burial and cultural sites, and to provide recreation and public access for generations to come.

As you can see, we have a lot happening in the region. We need your help, your donations and your ongoing support to keep things rolling. We need volunteers to help with trail construction, to build benches, to install signs and to monitor our projects.

In addition, we need two new board members to help coordinate these projects. Are you interested?

We can also use help with our website and with social media.

Most of all we need you to continue to get outside and to be inspired by nature!

Please feel free to contact us to discuss these projects. This is a very dynamic time, and we are grateful for your time, trust and your continued generous support.

For more information on the efforts of Mountain Meadows Conservancy and to donate call 256-3982. Email us at mtnmeadow@frontier.com. Website: mtmeadows.org.