Sequoia National Park Seeks Public Comments on Proposed Restoration of Ecosystem Function in Cahoon Meadow, a Severely Eroded Wilderness Wetland

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Date: December 10, 2014
Contact: Dana Dierkes, (559) 565-3131

SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS, CA–The National Park Service (NPS) is initiating public scoping on a proposal to evaluate a full range of ecological restoration options to address a large erosion gully in Cahoon Meadow, located within the John Krebs Wilderness of Sequoia National Park. The purpose of this project is to protect and restore wetlands in Cahoon Meadow. To obtain supplemental information about the proposed project, please visit the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/seki.

Cahoon Meadow lies within a parcel of land that was acquired by the NPS in 1980. While in private ownership, the meadow was heavily damaged by cattle grazing. Erosion of the bare soil created by overgrazing formed a deep gully that has drained over five acres of wetland and threatens 14 additional acres. The gully, at its largest extent, is 17 feet deep and 92 feet wide, and runs for approximately 1,200 feet, about 75% of the length of the meadow. The gully has caused a loss of wetland function and rare fen (peat-accumulating) habitat in Cahoon Meadow, the second largest wetland in the East Fork of the Kaweah River. Wetlands are important for flood reduction, water filtration, water storage, and wildlife habitat. If no action is taken, the existing meadow would continue to degrade, possibly leading to total loss of wetlands at Cahoon Meadow.

In order to restore ecosystem function to this meadow, the NPS has identified preliminary draft alternatives. These alternatives range from stabilization to full ecosystem restoration;and consider a full range of tools such as utilizing hand crews to utilizing earthmoving equipment transported by helicopter.

One alternative could stabilize the abrupt vertical drop at the leading edge of the gully and protect 14 acres of intact wetland from further damage by constructing log or rock structures. A second alternative could additionally restore an intermediate level of ecosystem function to five acres of drained meadow by constructing a series of check dams within the full length of the gully, with the long-term goal of slowing water flow, trapping sediment and raising the water table. Under both of these alternatives, construction could be done by hand crews and stock, or could include limited use of small earthmoving equipment, such as a mini-excavator, to provide deeper anchoring of logs. This would minimize long-term dam repairs and increase construction feasibility and the likelihood of success. A third alternative would evaluate restoring the meadow to a fully-functioning, sustainable wetland with no long-term maintenance. This could be achieved by utilizing several pieces of large earthmoving equipment, such as a bulldozer, over a period of several months.

The NPS is interested in any public concerns, potential issues, or opportunities related to the proposed restoration. After analyzing comments received during scoping, the NPS will determine the level of analysis needed. If you have any specific questions regarding this project proposal, you may contact Athena Demetry, Restoration Ecologist, at (559) 565-4479.

All written comments about this project must be transmitted, postmarked, or hand-delivered by January 23, 2015. To respond electronically, submit your comments via the PEPC website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/seki. To submit written comments, you may send them via mail or hand-deliver to: Superintendent, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Attn: Cahoon Meadow Restoration Plan, 47050 Generals Highway, Three Rivers, CA 93271. Faxed comments will be accepted at (559) 565-4202. Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment - including your personal identifying information - may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.



 
Intact Cahoon Meadow
Intact wetland in Cahoon Meadow unaffected by erosion gully.

NPS photo

 
Dewatered Cahoon Meadow
Dewatered, former wetland in Cahoon Meadow, adjacent to erosion gully.

NPS photo

 
Gully Cahoon Meadow
Erosion gully that has caused dewatering of wetlands in Cahoon Meadow.

NPS photo

Last updated: March 1, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271

Phone:

(559) 565-3341

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