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Hope Valley gets help

Emanating from the streamside early Saturday morning the words floated through the meadow like the flowing water: “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I’ll understand.”

About 45 volunteers set out on their mission with those words on their minds set by Dan Kaffer of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Hope Valley along the banks of the West Fork of the Carson River. Not delaying them from their task, Kaffer quickly finished his demonstration on how their efforts will help the river that meanders through the meadow.

With willows in hand, younger volunteers and chaperones set out to plunge the 12 to 18-inch cut willows into the banks while others cut fresh stems from established plants. Those soon found a new home in the sandy mud on the west side of the river.



Kaffer said the river banks have been significantly damaged from people walking along the elevated bank, and most recently, the severe runoff in 1997. He said willows are a natural way to help bring stability to these areas for the future, because of what these plants do. Sediment is reduced, helping the river downstream also.

Up from Minden with her father and friends to plant willows, Heather Lathrop rested on a boulder half submerged in the river and explained, ” I want to help keep the water downstream clean and help the wildlife.”



Along with her dad Peter and sisters Brittney and Katie Sardella, they hurriedly pushed willows as far into the banks as they could with dad following and pushing them in the final 4 inches.

“A watershed is a great way to tie a community together,” said Phil Chang, volunteering from the Sierra Nevada Alliance, as he cut willows. The Alliance, which recently received a grant to conduct a stream assessment of the Carson River and the Alpine County Watershed Group, will discuss the grant June 19 at the public library in Markleeville.

Volunteers at Saturday’s planting included members of the Friends of Hope Valley, who hosted the event, High Sierra Fly Casters, Shay Creek Homeowners Association and several college students from Santa Cruz.

Erosion was evident at the river’s sharp bends where more than 2 feet of earth is exposed with those areas receiving a heavy dose of willow. Small willows, planted in previous years dot the riverbank.

The river wasn’t the only area getting attention. Other volunteers spent the day mending fences, tending trails and picking up litter. Over the last six years of working in the area, Kaffer estimated 6,000 volunteers from five counties and two states practiced the words he sent them out with.


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