Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s watershed program receives conservation award

LAS VEGAS — The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Watershed Management Team was recently awarded the Soil and Water Conservation Society’s Merit Award. The team received this award for their work protecting and enhancing watersheds on 6.3 million acres located in Nevada and a small portion of eastern California.

“Our Watershed Management Team consists of a program lead, soil scientist, and three zone hydrologists. The team does a tremendous job promoting, planning, and implementing watershed improvement projects across a vast and diverse landscape, which include thousands of miles of streams.” said Susan Ellsworth, Natural Resources and Planning Staff Officer.

“The team manages watersheds for healthy and functioning wetlands and riparian areas to ensure the conservation of water quantity and quality, as well as the conservation of soil resources,” added Ellsworth. “This includes managing permitted activities, implementing restoration projects, and mitigating impacts to resources by wildland fire.”

Specific accomplishments of the Watershed Management Team include increasing stream function at Hope Valley in eastern California; restoring sage-grouse habitat on the Santa Rosa Ranger District in northern Nevada; improving Columbia spotted frog habitat on the Austin-Tonopah Ranger District in central Nevada; and working with Natural Resources Conservation Service to complete soil surveys and develop ecological site description for parts of the Forest.

“We could not accomplish this work without the help of community partners and stakeholders,” said Zone Hydrologist Robin Wignall. “The Forest’s Road Crew is also instrumental when it comes to implementing restoration projects.”

Additionally, the Watershed Management Team participates in a variety of outreach and educations events. Team members serve on the statewide Nevada Creeks and Communities Cadre, which teaches public sessions on riparian condition assessment. They also participate in elementary education school programs using a stream hydrology trailer that shows students the impacts of different kinds of land use on streams.

A structure in the Headwaters of the North Fork of the Little Humboldt retains water and soil allowing the ground water level of the meadow to return to support the water loving meadow species that provide foraging habitat for 16 leks of Great Sage grouse as well as mule deer, antelope and pygmy rabbits. Forest Service photo by Robin Wignall.