American Rivers’ Meadow Work Featured at Conference

American Rivers’ Sierra Nevada meadow assessment and restoration work was featured at the 96th annual Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) national meeting held this year in Austin, Texas.

More than 4,000 people gathered at the conference to share strategies to promote “Earth Stewardship: Preserving and enhancing earth’s life-support systems”.

Symposia centered on climate change, loss of biodiversity, population pressures, food production, energy acquisition, and resource use that threaten the earth’s life-support systems.

The Sierra Nevada is a unique “life-support system” that provides a variety of natural resources, ranging from forest products, livestock, food and water, to recreation and tourism. Sierra waterbodies contribute 65% of California’s developed water supplies, thereby supporting the richest agricultural valley in the nation and the seventh largest economy in the world.

Meadows comprise less than 10% of the area within the Sierra Nevada, but are disproportionately influential in terms of water and ecosystem functions. Meadows provide grazing forage, wildlife habitat, groundwater recharge, carbon sequestration, fishing and other recreation, and they improve water quality, and reduce floods, and sediment pollution.

In the Sierra Nevada, we are working to protect and restore headwater meadows that have suffered from more than a century of use.

By some estimates, 40-60% of Sierra meadows suffer from the impacts of over-grazing, erosion, lowered groundwater tables, and altered plant communities.

Recognition of the value and condition of Sierra meadows and has prompted large and increasing investment in meadow restoration and protection.

Some of the goals of our meadow work are to accurately identify Sierra meadows, develop a rapid and repeatable assessment methodology, and prioritize meadow restoration.