Help needed in preserving watersheds

Help needed in preserving watersheds

Chico-area residents will have their chance to make their voices heard in a way that will help preserve one of our most valuable resources—watersheds.

The Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council, based in Foster City, is making a stop in Chico as part of a series of meetings throughout California that will gather ideas for the conservation of California watersheds.

Watersheds are the areas that catch rain and snow that then drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater. “No matter where you live, you live in a watershed” is a slogan the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency uses.

The Stewardship Council is seeking ideas that will benefit the lands and help conserve the watersheds in Butte, Plumas and Shasta counties. Those ideas will be taken into consideration before developing a land conservation plan in spring 2007.

The watersheds being discussed at tonight’s (Dec. 7) meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge in Chico are the Pit, McCloud and Feather River watersheds, all part of the Sacramento River Basin.

Watershed management is key to preserving and improving water quality for the future, said Steven Spivak, public information manager of the Stewardship Council. “We urge people to come to the meeting,” he said. “People need to have the chance to give their input.”

The council plans to preserve the land based on six public values, he said: outdoor recreation, sustainable forestry, agriculture, habitat protection, open-space preservation and the protection of historical aspects.

The public will view concept maps that reflect ideas obtained from past meetings. The Stewardship Council staff will also provide maps that show the current condition of the watershed lands. Watershed areas face threats from mining, grazing, development, logging, development and other factors.

Established with the 2004 PG&E bankruptcy settlement, the Stewardship Council is a nonprofit organization that aims to conserve the watersheds of 22 California counties through the actions of Californians.

Additionally, the Stewardship Council contributes money to implement park and environmental-education opportunities for urban youth, Spivak said. This is to encourage them to get outside, creating a new generation of involved individuals.

This potential for the future can be fostered by a strong watershed and land conservation plan. The Stewardship Council hopes to place some control of the future with those who will benefit the most, members of the committee.