As centers of knowledge in land and wildlife management, NRS scientists and reserve personnel are frequent contributors to regional planning efforts. Their appreciation for local ecosystem processes and species interactions, as well as access to academic experts, makes reserves valuable partners in improving environmental conditions for people and wildlife alike.
More than 150 years of fire suppression and management to maximize timber production in the Sierra Nevada has resulted in limited diversity in tree species, sizes and ages; fuels accumulation; susceptibility to drought and disease; and lower quality habitat for wildlife. Sagehen Creek Field Station is the test site for a new U.S. Forest Service approach called Strategically Placed Land Area Treatments (SPLATs) that thins the forest to produce habitat diversity while minimizing burn intensity. Stakeholders ranging from loggers, environmentalists, agency staff, academics, NGOs, and interested citizens learned about and commented on the process, a collaboration that produced unprecedented acceptance by participants. These findings are being shared via participation in the Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative, which seeks to increase the pace and scale of restoration work in regional watersheds.
The protected boundaries of many NRS reserves are critically important for wildlife. They serve as corridors for migrating species, core habitat for organisms crowded out by urban development, and nurseries for fishes, seals, and marine invertebrates that go on to populate surrounding waters. Because the interests of the NRS lie in maintaining the natural processes and populations of its reserves, its personnel often participate in planning efforts for adjacent areas. The expertise of NRS staff has contributed to the establishment of the nation's first habitat conservation plan (HCP), the management of marine protected areas, water diversions for wildlife, and many other matters. By lending insights and leadership to conservation planning, NRS stewardship of reserves contributes to the overall health of California's environment.
Reserve managers at Sagehen Creek Field Station are helping to reduce collisions between cars and wildlife along a busy road adjacent to the reserve. Surrounded by national forest lands, the road also bisects the migration route of a local deer herd. The Highway 89 Stewardship Team worked with CalTrans to identify the best location for an animal underpass, and is now working on a second crossing.