This summer, The Plumas Audubon Society launched a new program to employ teenagers in ecological restoration projects on the Plumas National Forest.
The Audubon Conservation Team consisted of six teenagers and two adult leaders from around Plumas County. The team consisted of Tristan Hamilton of Portola, Rachael Fatheree of Delleker, Johnny Morrison of Loyalton, Ryan Carpenter of Greenville, Wes Roper of Quincy and Morgen Peters of Taylorsville.
These teens voluntarily applied for and accepted the position with Plumas Audubon knowing full well that they would have to contend with long days, demanding work and hot summer temperatures. For most of the team this was their first official job, and they were able to practice resume writing, interviewing, and reliability along with the hard skills needed during the workday.
The team worked diligently to help the Forest Service restore meadows near Antelope lake in areas affected by the 2007 Moonlight fire. Most days were spent repairing barbed wire fencing, re-vegetating along stream beds, creating burn piles or building features to slow the flow of water through riparian zones.
The team also assisted USFS biologists in relocating fish away from impacted waterways. The team camped out during the work week, and were expected to help prepare meals and participate in group chores.
“It wasn’t always too bad, we took them down to cook dinner by Antelope Lake a few nights per week. Most of them either went fishing, swimming or just hung out and read for a few hours each night,” said crew leader Michael Hall.
The Audubon team spent most of the summer assisting with a “pond and plug” project on Willow creek, one of the tributaries that feeds into Antelope Lake. The pond and plug project created heavily eroded and damaged sections of meadow, which the crew helped replant with willows and grasses. According to crew leader Jessie Mazar, “It was pretty incredible, by the time we left we could see willows we had planted a few weeks earlier starting to re-grow.”
During their time spent in the meadows, the team had regular encounters with a family of sooty grouse, mountain quail, nighthawks and a variety of raptors, including nesting pairs of bald eagles and osprey near the lake. The group also learned to improve their own birding skills, using both sight and sound to identify dark-eyed juncos, red-breasted nuthatches, western tanagers, mountain chickadee, western wood peewees and other species that were commonly observed.
This was Plumas Audubon’s first foray into launching a youth conservation program, and hopefully something it will offer for many years to come.
Plumas Audubon offers a variety of programs and events based around wildlife, ecology and forest health in the Feather River Region. For more information, visit plumasaudubon.org.