Meeks Creek Meadow could get an ecological facelift this summer.
The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit started soliciting public feedback last month for a proposed project to restore the meadow located west of Highway 89 near Meeks Bay.
LTBMU Spokeswoman Lisa Herron said the agency doesn’t anticipate any major impacts to recreation, but the trailhead that provides access to Desolation Wilderness and Lake Genevieve could close temporarily.
The duration and timing of those closures will depend on when crews start work and how long it takes them to clear the trees, according to Herron.
The project focuses on restoring about 300 acres of meadow habitat that has been choked by encroaching conifers due to fire suppression, different grazing practices and a changing climate, according to the project’s decisional memo.
“It’s an ecological restoration project. The meadow has become overgrown with dense trees and the idea is to remove the trees. Basically what happens is when the creek gets disturbed — in this case because of overgrowth — the meadow tends to dry out. The meadow should be lush,” Herron said.
The LTBMU launched a similar project in 2008 to restore meadow vegetation and plant species traditionally important to the Washoe Tribe, according to Forest Service documents.
The agency is accepting public comments on the current Meeks Creek Meadow project through Tuesday, April 30. About 35 miles south of Meeks, another environmental group will restore Hope Valley in the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest and Shell Meadow in the Stanislaus National Forest.
American Rivers, an environmental protection group, received a $137,000 grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to restore the key headwater meadows and monitor fish and wildlife for two years.
“By restoring these meadows we can help them act as natural sponges that store water. As climate change reduces snowpack, California’s rivers and the downstream communities that depend on them will need this kind of innovative water supply solution,” American Rivers Associate Director of Conservation Luke Hunt said in a press release.