A watershed restoration project on private and public land near Elko, Nevada, is benefitting threatened Lahontan cutthroat and the cattle of the Heguy family. The Susie Creek project has been highlighted by the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association and the Elko District of the Bureau of Land Management in the first of a series of articles showcasing ranching conservation projects on Lahontan cutthroat trout streams in Nevada
Susie creek. Maybe you’re thinking, “Susie creek, Susie creek…I know that name….” and you’d be right. Because you do. Because it’s the remarkably restored creek filmed in this part of a certain documentary that we all watched last year.
(That initial clip is of susie creek NV being assessed by Suzanne Fouty and Carol Evans.)
Clearly they know what’s saving these trout and the stream. And the author Brent Prettyman is a major beaver benefit reporter from way back, so he knows what’s going on too. But this article definitely hides the beaver light under a bushel.
It’s like everyone is afraid of saying the B-word.
The Heguy family allotment includes 37,000 acres of public land and 13,000 acres of private. Restoration work was done on the entire allotment and included help reseeding native vegetation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after a wildfire, water developments to draw cattle away from riparian areas and a pasture to manage timing and duration of grazing on the land.
Um okay, you got a lot of money
to plant willow and build fences to keep the cows out. Yeah, that is a great start. Then what happened? Did the trout just magically appear? Did it rain trout? Or was there several middle steps. Actors that enriched the soil, increased the invertebrate community, and stored the water over time. HMMM? Speak up, I can’t hear you?
The benefit for the threatened trout is colder water and more of it, as well as critical streamside vegetation. The evaluation showed riparian vegetation in the entire Susie Creek Basin increased by more than 100 acres. There had been no beaver dams in the system and there were 139 when the evaluation was done. More water was visible on the landscape and well monitoring showed an increase in shallow aquifers.
Okay, so we kept out the cows
and planted willow and then these fish and beaver dams just started magically appearing! We have no idea why! I mean there just HAPPENED to be 139 beaver dams by the time the creek was restored? That’s soooooooo random. What an incredible coincidence.
What a bunch of beaver sissies! They just can’t admit how important a role they played can they?
The most amazing part of this article is that Carol is able to work with this rancher and get him to keep the cows out of the creek and manage to get a grant for it. All the while knowing full well that she can’t say the name of the heroes responsible or she’ll raise hackles. Plus the feds would never fund a BEAVER project!
Carol Evans is a magician, a talented tight-rope walker and I salute her for that. Here’s her additions to this article from her response this morning,
Well, thanks for this. Is it great, but there are a few things I would like to clarify. The Heguy Allotment is at the top of the watershed above the area where beaver have colonized. The majority of the Susie Creek basin is grazed by Maggie Creek Ranch. Cattle were never removed from any portion of the watershed or stream; rather we just work with the ranchers to manage grazing (basically the magic formula is to reduce frequency and duration of hot season grazing over time; the recovery areas are still grazed spring, fall, summer – short duration, etc.). Also, willows were not planted; recovery just happens here when you remove the stressor (too much hot season grazing) and let nature do her thing! This is happening in many places in NE Nevada.
On another note, myself and several ranchers have been invited to speak on the subject of livestock management=riparian plants=beaver=water (!) at a conference on Restoring the Water Cycle at Tuff’s University in Boston in October. Cool that this important story continues to gain attention!
As a side note, in the Maggie Basin, where prescriptive grazing has been in place for about 25 years, active beaver dams went from 100 to 270 in four years (from 2006 to 2010)! We have some similar type info in another basin. Remote sensing is a great way to look at all of it. The next step would be to quantify the water storage. Some day . . .
Thanks for your work in telling the story!Carol Evans Fishery Biologist,Tuscarora Field Office Elko District, BLM 3900 E. Idaho St. Elko, NV 89801 775-753-0349; Carol_Evans@blm.gov