The proposed project will connect the need to restore wildfire-related ecosystem damage threatening water quality and watershed health in the Dry Creek watershed within the Russian River Valley, with the need for greater access for youth historically underrepresented in environmental education or meaningful, career-oriented employment in the field of conservation.
The proposed project will address creek, riparian corridor, and up-slope damage created by a dozer line on LandPaths’ Riddell Preserve, which was formed to combat the fast-moving Wallbridge Fire in August 2020, and will enable LandPaths to implement other critical watershed stewardship on the Riddell Preserve. The Riddell Preserve is a 400-acre ecological preserve within the Russian River Watershed, owned and stewarded by LandPaths, with a conservation easement held by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District. Of particular concern is to protect water quality through erosion control and restoring the site’s hydrology and native flora.
The Young Stewards project, being piloted spring 2021, engages young people in land stewardship while contributing to a more diverse green workforce. The grant would allow at least 5 of 8 positions to be paid position for young people historically underrepresented in conservation fields.
The grant will be accomplished by:
1) Contracting Pacific Watersheds Associates to conduct an assessment and develop a hydro-geologic plan to re-contour and restore the hillside cut by dozers during the Walbridge Fire.
2) Hire a “Young Stewards” crew of 8 youth/young adults during summer 2021 to implement invasive species removal, trail restoration and maintenance, and address erosion which threatens the Crane and Kelly Creeks.
3) Train and teach Young Stewards about the field of watershed science, fire fuel reduction, traditional ecological knowledge and other natural history and resources topics including macroinvertebrates, pollinators, botany, and hydrology.