The Alpine Watershed Group actively plans, implements, and manages restoration projects in the watersheds of Alpine County. AWG utilizes many restoration techniques in order to limit erosion and turbidity in streams and to prevent damage to wetlands including stream bank stabilization, riparian planting, invasive weed removal, upland slope stabilization/erosion control, and OHV management. For over a decade our volunteers have led and supported regular noxious weed pulls, native plant revegetation, streambank stabilization, and meadow restorations. Please view our calendar to see upcoming volunteer activities. We'd love to have your help!
Alpine Watershed Group, in partnership with Alpine County and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and with support from American Rivers, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, Friends of Hope Valley, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, has led the development of the Hope Valley Restoration and Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Project. Project construction took place in October 2020. The completed project will:
1. Stabilize approximately 450 feet of eroding banks along the West Fork Carson River, connecting the 0.5 mile stretch through lower Hope Valley with the 2015 restoration project conducted by American Rivers;
2. Improve water quality and the aquatic habitat along 0.5 miles of river within specific reaches by reducing erosion, providing shading, reducing sedimentation, and increasing water storage capacity;
3. Benefit water users in the Carson Valley and fishing and other recreation activities for visitors and residents of Alpine County, as well as increase public awareness from visible restoration; and
4. Mitigate the potential long-term impacts of climate change by reestablishing a functional floodplain and meadow system; this allows the river corridor to accommodate variable flows due to potential earlier spring run-offs.
Alpine Watershed Group, in partnership with Alpine County and Markleeville Public Utility District, and with support from Carson Ranger District of the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Friends of Hope Valley, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, and Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, has led the development of the Markleeville Creek Floodplain Restoration Project at the former U.S. Forest Service Guard Station site in downtown Markleeville. The completed project will:
1. Restore the natural stream channel and floodplain functions to reduce damaging effects of floods, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and treat stormwater
2. Upgrade aging sewer infrastructure located in the floodplain to reduce the potential for system overflows and the threat of water quality impairments
3. Provide public access and recreation features including walking trails, interpretive signage, and parking
For an overview and project description, click here for the flyer; or check out the 2014 restoration design plans here. The environmental review for the project resulted in an Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration. Click here for Volume I and Volume II.
Grover Meadow Restoration
& ADA Access Project
Alpine Watershed Group partnered with California State Parks (CSP) to reduce user impacts throughout the meadow and to rehabilitate the existing impacted areas at Grover Hot Springs State Park. The meadow restoration and interpretive signage project was completed in conjunction with CSP's ADA facility improvement project that relocated significant sections of the existing trail out of the sensitive wetland areas and constructed a boardwalk trail where the trail still crosses the meadow. The completed project:
Removed and restored incised trails and road grades within Grover meadow
Built an elevated ADA-accessible boardwalk and permeable causeways that allow for hydrologic connectivity and public access from the campground to the hot springs pool
Stabilized the reach of Hot Springs Creek within the meadow by installing brush boxes
Removed weeds brought into the meadow by old access infrastructure
Created and installed interpretative signs along the trail
Implemented photo and water quality monitoring throughout the project
Project began planning in January 2016. The project was completed in 2020. AWG will continue to lead volunteers in water quality monitoring and invasive, nonnative weed removal.
Take a virtual tour of the trail!
See our table on Alpine County Invasive Weeds for more information on identifying invasive plants and what to do if you spot one!
Alpine Watershed Group has been a part of the Adopt-A-Highway program since May 2005. Members of the group are responsible for trash removal on the stretch of highway 89 from the base of monitor pass to the Markleeville Campground, a distance of 4.1 miles. The route passes along the side of the scenic East Carson River. The cleanup takes just over 2 hours with 4 volunteers. Cleanup days are scheduled as needed 3-4 times per year and volunteers are welcome!
Indian Valley Restoration Project
Alpine Watershed Group, in partnership with American Rivers and the Forest Service, received a grant to perform a large stream restoration project in 2012 in Indian Valley. Like many valleys in Alpine County, Indian Valley was scarred from years of heavy travel during the mining boom. The stream channel was eroding, causing groundwater to drain quickly from the meadow after the snowpack melted each season. Using the “pond and plug” technique, the river was rerouted to its natural location and depth in the valley. The technique uses ground material from the surrounding area to “plug” deep sections of the stream channel while allowing water to “pond” where ground material was taken from. Now, the stream has found its original course and three years of groundwater level monitoring has shown increased health of the meadow.
Project was completed by 2014.
Alpine County has partnered with Alpine Watershed Group and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, along with Carson Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Eastern Alpine County Volunteer Fire Department, Alpine Fire Safe Council, Woodfords Community of the Washoe Tribe, Carson Water Subconservancy District, and American Rivers to create a buffer and reduce the chance of fires escaping roads by treating 120.1 acres of fuels along 32.18 miles of Alpine County right-of-way.
This project addresses Alpine County’s wildfire threat by treating fuels in the Upper Carson Watershed within the County’s right of way that have been identified as being at a high risk of carrying wildfire into sensitive watershed resources and populated areas.The fuels treatment primarily consists of using an articulated mower, along with some hand tools, to create a fuel-free zone along county roads. The project also includes a community outreach component promoting fuels treatment among private landowners and developing a school-based educational program to promote wildfire prevention and personal responsibility while emphasizing the role of fire in a healthy ecosystem.
Alpine County Hazardous Fuels and Healthy Watersheds
East Carson Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Restoration (2017)
In partnership with Humboldt -Toiyabe National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, and Alpine County, and with the support of Carson Water Subconservancy District and the Sagebrush Chapter of Trout Unlimited in addition to a California State Parks Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Grant, Alpine Watershed Group restored 5.15 acres of riparian habitat along the East Fork Carson River. The project area spanned the reach from Hangman's Bridge just east of Markleeville to the river’s upstream confluence with Silver Creek, a popular recreational area that was being heavily impacted by OHV use. The seven project sites are the only access points along 6.5 miles of river through a steep canyon along Highway 89, thus the project protected the entire 6.5 miles from riparian damage due to vehicles. Boulders were strategically placed to help encourage visitors to drive and camp in designated areas, allowing riparian vegetation to grow back on streambanks and floodplains. The vegetation helps to prevent erosion and runoff and is important for maintaining healthy fish habitat. Seeding with native plant seeds was used for erosion control on OHV-damaged hillsides. The project also included signage regarding limits to motorized use off the Barney Riley Trail and an East Fork Carson River interpretive sign.
Rivers and Ranches (2016)
Alpine Watershed Group partnered with Valerie Gordon, the owner of the Ace Hereford Ranch, to offer technical grant-writing assistance so she could improve the ranch’s management practices, pasture utilization, and infrastructure. Ms. Gordon had just recently purchased the 914-acre property located in Alpine County outside of Woodfords, along the West Fork of the Carson River.
The results of this partnership were:
Installed exclusion fencing to improve pasture utilization, inhibit nutrient loading, and disperse grazing
Fenced out riparian areas and other sensitive habitats that disperse, filter, and capture nutrients
Repaired and improved infrastructure that allows the ranch to utilize pastures away from the river
Planted grasses, aspen, and evergreens to stabilize slopes and inhibit erosion while dispersing and capturing nutrients
Enhanced existing wetland to trap sediment and filter nutrients before water returns to the Carson River
Hope Valley Meadow Restoration Project
American Rivers has partnered with Alpine Watershed Group, along with Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Friends of Hope Valley, CA Department of Fish & Wildlife, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest to restore 400 acres of upper Hope Valley, including 1.8 miles of streambanks in order to enhance the full range of ecosystem services the meadow provides.
In October 2015, the project team completed the first phase of construction for the project. Contractors installed a log-crib structure to stabilize a particularly high, eroding bank and enhance fish habitat along 130 feet of stream channel in the CA Department of Fish & Wildlife (CDFW) portion of the meadow. Starting August 2016 and ending October 2016, American RIvers strategically placed root wads, boulders, and logs to stabilize banks and reduce the amount of sediment load washing into the river. Specific activities included toe stabilization, cutoff protection, headcut repair, and bank and bar revegetation.
Markleevillage Fuels Reduction
Alpine County partnered with Alpine Watershed Group, Alpine Fire Safe Council, and the Carson Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest to ensure community wildfire protection efforts by continuing the implementation of the Markleevillage Fuels Reduction Project by reducing fuel loads on 234 acres around rural, residential areas near Markleeville.
The project is funded through a Sierra Nevada Conservancy grant awarded to Alpine County. The work occurred on National Forest System lands managed by the Carson Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Work was performed in accordance with specifications and standards determined by the Carson Ranger District and incorporated into this scope of work. Supervision of work on the ground was at the direction of the Carson Ranger District staff, Anna Belle Monti and with the Alpine Fire Safe Council (AFSC) representative, Kris Hartnett. AFSC supports project implementation and conducted on-site project oversight and inspections Alpine County was the contracting agency and provided payment to the contractor for work satisfactorily completed as determined by Alpine County and the Carson Ranger District. Alpine Watershed Group assisted with partner coordination, grant management, community outreach and youth education.
The treatment areas involved in this proposal are contiguous with previous treatments conducted by the USFS, ongoing roadside thinning by Alpine County, facility protection efforts by Grover Hot Springs State Park, and defensible space efforts by private residents. This project met the critical need of the community due to the fact that the Markleevillage and Shay Creek members have limited egress in the event of wildfire. These communities not only have limited access, they are located within a high fire concern area.