The Current Magazine Summer 2015 - Page 8

MEADOWS

What if the benefits of restoring a Sierra meadow to full health included the recovery of native flora and fauna, more reliable water supplies for farmers and urban users, and significant reductions in greenhouse gases that are the leading cause of climate change? California Trout and several partners are trying to do just that by embarking on an innovative collaboration to determine whether healthy, functioning meadows are more effective at capturing greenhouse gases than degraded meadows.

In short, CalTrout and partners of a new Sierra Meadows Research and Restoration Partnership (SMRRP) will quantify greenhouse gas benefits that result from meadow restorations throughout the Sierra Nevada. If the initial restoration projects demonstrate a strong correlation between improved meadow health and carbon storage capacity, CalTrout and its partners plan to utilize the findings to improve meadow restoration practices and thereby create enhanced resiliency to the impacts of climate change more broadly across the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades as part of the state's strategy to battle global warming.

This new and promising phase of meadow restoration work arose out of a Sierra Meadow Business Plan created by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), which established a program to advance meadow restoration for the benefit of fish and wildlife.

By FRANK ELDREDGE and

MARK DREW, Ph.D.

Frank is a 26-year member of CalTrout and contributing writer to The Current. Mark is CalTrout's Sierra Headwaters Director.