A Community Update
Submitted by Denise Della Santina
Since 2010, Sierra Streams Institute (SSI) has monitored flora and fauna and completed stewardship work at Hirschman’s Pond. In 2015, SSI collected and compiled scientific data about the habitat and organisms living there to write the Hirschman’s Pond Land Management Plan as a guide for the management of the City of Nevada City (City) owned property. Goals include maintaining a healthy forest and wildlife habitat, improving recreational opportunities and preventing catastrophic fires through restoration and selective fuel reduction projects. The bark beetle epidemic has exponentially increased the difficulty in managing our forests for these goals.
Unfortunately, this summer the “perfect storm” of trying to manage tree mortality for public safety, with limited funds, led to actions at Hirschman’s Pond that were extremely impactful to the land. The removal of dead trees heavily impacted vegetation, wildlife, and soil within the perimeter of the tree removal zone, and also within a Healthy Forest and Fuel Reduction Project zone completed by SSI in 2017. Important plant and animal habitat was lost and soils were left scarred.
Since realizing the immediate and potential future impacts at Hirschman’s Pond, City personnel and community stakeholders have met on site to discuss how this occurred, how to prevent future scenarios like this one, and the critical next steps for remediation. Many lessons have already been learned regarding communication and the need for consultation on projects such as these. These lessons are important throughout the State, where land managers need to be looking for less destructive ways that tree removal can be done while protecting watershed health and plant, wildlife, and human communities.
SSI has been working with City Public Works staff to address immediate concerns for the area which include potential erosion and possible impacts on water quality in the Pond and Deer Creek. Last week work began to re-contour drainages and stabilize slopes by placing logs in erosion prone areas. Branches and limbs were spread and embedded onto disturbed soils in effort to “slow, spread and sink” rain and storm water into the soils, to reduce water and sediment run-off into waterways. Mulch will be relocated from other areas in the park and placed on bare soils to reduce erosion potential from rain and begin the process of soil-redevelopment.
Long-term concerns include the invasion of Scotch broom and other non-natives which out-compete native plants, reduce wildlife habitat and increase fire hazard. The establishment of healthy soil and native plants is essential to provide long term erosion protection, forest regeneration, andwildlife habitat.
SSI has and will continue to partner with the City to protect Hirschman’s Pond using best management practices. The community’s help is much needed for current and future restoration work, including continued erosion control (especially during winter storms), native plant revegetation (with plants and/or seed), and invasive plant removal (Scotch broom).
How YOU Can Help: Hirschman’s Pond Stewardship Day this Saturday
The City of Nevada City and Sierra Streams Institute will be hosting a Hirschman’s Pond Stewardship Day on Saturday, September 9th; 9am-1pm, or whenever you can make it within that time frame. Park at the Cement Hill Parking Lot or across the street at the Rood Center. We will be moving branches and mulch to stabilize slopes and cover bare soils, building habitat brush piles, and preparing areas for planting in the fall. Please join this community building event and show your hands-on continued support for our beloved Hirschman’s Pond.
Bring your own gloves if you have them. Tools and gloves will be provided. Wear sturdy shoes, long pants, and bring a long sleeve work shirt if you have one. Bring water, sun-protection and other personal essentials. Light snacks will be provided. Questions? Email: Denise@sierrastreamsinstitute.org