Indian Valley Meadow Restoration Project

A rocky meadow with sparse vegetation and a small stream of water surrounded by wooded hillsides.

Indian Valley Meadows: 500-acre meadow located atop the Sierra Crest in Alpine County, CA. Headwaters of the Mokelumne River: source for agricultural, hydropower, ecological, recreation, and drinking water.


Indian Valley is a 500-acre meadow located approximately 9 miles southeast of Carson Pass and Highway 88, atop the Sierra Crest in Alpine County, CA. The project area is located on the Eldorado National Forest, adjacent to Mokelumne Wilderness. See attached project location map. Indian Valley is in the headwaters of the Mokelumne River Watershed.

Project Objectives

  • Restore hydrologic connectivity and meadow ecosystem function.
  • Enhance wildlife and plant habitat.
  • Improve downstream water quality.
  • Engage stakeholders and downstream users in restoration of public lands and resources.
  • Conduct monitoring and evaluation of restoration activities.

Purpose and Need

  • Improve hydrologic function and assist conversion of riparian meadow vegetation.
  • Eroded, incised stream channels have resulted in a lowering of the water table and the replacement of riparian meadow vegetation with sagebrush and other sparse dryland plants.
  • Unstable banks and erosion dominate much of the meadow’s condition.

Project Description

“Plug and Pond” approximately 6,000 feet of low gradient stream. Fill or “plug” deep gullies to encourage flows to reconnect with remnant or historic stream channel. Create shallow ponds to add connect the stream channel to its floodplain, increase groundwater replenishment and improve aquatic habitat. Approximately 35 plug/ponds are proposed. See attached project design.

Pre- and post-restoration monitoring to evaluate the effectiveness of restoration activities would be conducted. Water quality, flow, groundwater, vegetation, and bird and amphibian species and populations would be monitored.

Project Timeline (estimated)

  • Mid-August (approx. week of August 13)—Road reconstruction in preparation for equipment and materials staging to be completed by Forest Service Construction and Maintenance Crew. Duration: 3 days.
  • Late August (approx. week of August 27)—Plumas Corp moves in and begins material delivery and project implementation/construction. Duration: 1 week.
  • Early to mid-September - Project implementation/construction ongoing. Duration: 3-4 weeks.
  • September 12—Check Presentation/Media Event—San Leandro, CA
  • Late September to mid-October - Complete construction and revegetation work, monitoring, and button up project area for winter. Duration: 2 weeks.
  • Saturday, September 29—Volunteer Work Day/Celebration Event.

Total duration of project implementation by Plumas Corporation is approximately 6 weeks (late August to mid-October).

Beneficial Effects

The “plug and pond” treatment will result in a stream that can access the floodplain, spread out and reduce the energy of the water flow and re-water the nearby meadow. The seasonal water table is expected to stay higher for longer into the dry season, encouraging the growth of riparian vegetation, and providing cooler water for fish and wildlife. Indian Valley was identified as the top candidate for restoration in the NFWF-funded 2010-2011 assessment of meadows in the Mokelumne Watershed because of its potential to provide improved habitat value.

The Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation contracted with LimnoTech to predict water replenishment benefits. The annual groundwater recharge is predicted to increase by 80.5 million gallons/year (305 million liters).


American Rivers—Administering the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant, including matching funds from Coca-Cola Corporation. American Rivers is responsible for implementation of meadow restoration activities (contracting with Plumas Corporation) and monitoring (contracting with Institute for Bird Populations, Alpine Watershed Group, and Foothill Conservancy). American Rivers will serve as the “umbrella organization” to coordinate partners and manage volunteer activities associated with project implementation and monitoring. The Forest Service is entering into a Partnership Agreement with American Rivers to authorize restoration and monitoring work to be completed on NFS lands and to formalize this relationship.

American Rivers is a national organization working to protect and restore nation’s rivers and streams. American Rivers is leading efforts in CA to protect the natural benefits of healthy mountain meadows.

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)—Funded project through Wildlife Keystone – Sierra Wet Meadows Restoration grant program and receiving match funding from Coca-Cola. NFWF will be providing the funding directly to American Rivers to implement the restoration and monitoring.

Coca-Cola—Providing match funding to NFWF needed to implement the Indian Valley Meadow Restoration Project. Water is primary ingredient in the production of their beverage products and Coca-Cola recognizes they must focus water stewardship and sustainability efforts beyond their bottling plants. Goal: By 2020, safely return to nature and to communities an amount of water equal to what they use in their finished beverages and their production.

Plumas Corporation—The Plumas Corporation is a recognized leader in plug and pond restoration of Sierra Meadows. American Rivers will contract with Plumas Corporation to implement the restoration work.

Alpine Watershed Group—Conducting pre- and post-project monitoring to assess hydrologic change. American Rivers will subcontract with Alpine Watershed Group to support monitoring efforts. Alpine Watershed Group works to preserve and enhance the natural system functions of Alpine County's watersheds for future generations.

Foothill Conservancy—Conducting pre- and post-project monitoring to assess hydrologic change. American Rivers will subcontract with Foothill Conservancy to support monitoring efforts. They will also be providing volunteer and in kind labor. Foothill Conservancy’s focus is to protect, restore, and sustain the natural and human environment in Amador and Calaveras counties for the benefit of current and future generations.

Institute for Bird Populations—Conducting pre- and post-project monitoring for birds. They have conducted baseline surveys of the project area as part of regional effectiveness monitoring of meadow restoration projects. American Rivers will subcontract with Institute for Bird Populations to support monitoring efforts. Institute for Bird Populations is dedicated to understanding the abundance, distribution, and ecology of birds, and to facilitating scientifically informed conservation of birds and their habitats.

Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California—Interested in the project and support returning the stream/meadow to conditions believed to be consistent with prehistoric conditions.

Sierra Forest Legacy—Supportive of the project and have expressed interest in being involved. Have not had any recent discussions, but they may be interested in providing in kind volunteer labor during and post project implementation.

Center for Sierra Nevada Conservation—Supportive of the project and have expressed interest in being involved. Have not had any recent discussions, but they may be interested in providing in kind volunteer labor during and post project implementation.

Amador-Calaveras Consensus Group—Indian Valley Restoration project is part of the Cornerstone CFLRA project in coordination with the Amador-Calaveras Consensus Group.