‘Water Talks’ draw large audiences

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
Meadow Barr moderates ‘Water Talks’ Thursday evening at the Brown Trout Cafe in Dunsmuir. Despite competing against the Vice Presidential debate and the first hard rain in seven months, Water Talks packed the house with residents concerned about the issue of water in our area. In attendance in the standing room only crowd were both candidates for District 2 Supervisor, Jim Hardy and Ed Valenzuela, as well as Dunsmuir City Administrator Keith Anderson.

Over the course of three evenings in Weed, Dunsmuir, and McCloud, residents from every corner of Siskiyou County, and as far away as Orland and Arcata, came to hear “Water Talks: An Introduction to Mount Shasta's Unique Ecosystems.”

Dr. Rene Henery,  Research Director for the River Exchange, as well the Castle Lake Long Term Research Program, presented an overview of Mount Shasta’s unique geology, hydrology and ecology. Henery, who has a doctoral degree in Environmental Geography from UC Davis, explained that Mount Shasta is composed of a complex mix of rocks, and he also spoke about Mount Shasta’s glaciers and the recently completed McCloud Assessment Roadmap Project and the Upper Sacramento Watershed Assessment.

Andrew Braugh, the project coordinator for California Trout’s Mount Shasta office, presented on the McCloud Redband Trout. He has a Masters degree in Non-Profit Management and Public Administration with a focus in Natural Resources from the Monterey Institute for International Studies.

Curtis Knight, Cal Trout’s Mount Shasta program manager with a Masters degree in Fisheries Science from Utah State University, explained how Mount Shasta’s cold spring waters are the basis for the unique and productive fisheries in the Shasta, McCloud and Upper Sacramento Rivers. He also described why California Trout has initiated a springs and groundwater study in partnership with AquaTerra and UC Davis to better understand and manage these resources.

Knight spoke about California Trout’s role in developing an Independent Review Team to help design the baseline studies, long term monitoring, and adaptive management strategies for Squaw Valley Creek in the case of a potential Nestle Bottling facility being developed there.

Steve Bachmann, hydrologist for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest on the Shasta-McCloud Management Unit, with a Master’s degree in Watershed Science from Colorado State University, explained various fuels management, wet meadow restoration, carbon sequestration, aspen meadow restoration, sediment control, and Port Orford Cedar restoration projects in all three watersheds.

Also on the panel was Lisa Unkefer of AquaTerra Consulting, an environmental engineer and project manager of the Cal Trout and UC Davis springs and groundwater assessment. In that role, Unkefer visits area springs, takes samples, and sends them to UC Davis labs for analysis.

“We test for dissolved oxygen, temperature, and isotopes among other things,” she explained to the audience. “We are starting to take flow measurements because we’ve found some springs are dry when not expected, or flowing when not expected. We are currently waiting for analysis from UC Davis.” The purpose of the study is to characterize the springs and eventually develop a vulnerability index to guide management decisions.

Carson Jeffres is a fisheries biologist with the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences and has a BS in fisheries and a Masters degree in Ecology, both from Davis. Jeffres’ presentation focused on the unique life histories of the coho, Chinook and steelhead salmon in the Shasta River. “The Shasta has high potential for restoration,” he said at the meeting.

The Shasta Valley Resource Conservation District had three staff members present at “Water Talks.” In Weed, Amy Hansen, the Coordinated Resource Management Program coordinator for Shasta Valley Resource Conservation District, who has a degree in Natural Resources from Humboldt State University, explained about tailwater projects and flashboard dam removal projects.

Karen Mallory a project manager for the Shasta Valley RCD, focuses on water quality monitoring. Mallory has a Bachelors degree in Forestry and an MA in Watershed Management. In Dunsmuir, Mallory presented on the RCD’s projects, explaining how the RCD is an interface between public agencies and private landowners.

In McCloud, RCD staff member Steve Hill presented on RCD projects, explaining that the RCD has spent over $11 million on their various projects, including substantial restoration projects. Hill has been instrumental in developing important planning documents and the Shasta River Water Trust. Hill’s background includes a degree in Zoology from UC Berkeley, a full career with the State Park Service, and time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya.

One attendee said, “This was so much better than watching the debates. Thank you, I learned so much!”

Video of the talks will be sent to MCTV 15 so citizens can check for upcoming programming. Organizers said there was so much interest in the “Water Talks” that additional talks are being scheduled for Yreka and Mount Shasta. There will also be an upcoming Siskiyou Water Network meeting to brainstorm topics for a continuing series of educational Water Talks. The Power Point presentation will be posted at

For more information contact Meadow Barr at 926-4707 or Curtis Knight at 926-3755.