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Yreka to host Water Talks event for the first time

Siskiyou Daily News

March 21, 2012
By John Bowman

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Landowners and community groups across Siskiyou County have spent resources and time on projects to improve the health of local watersheds. On March 27, the Water Talks program will feature four presentations about some of those projects, including the Yreka Creek Greenway and, pictured here, the Greenhorn Park floodplain and native plant restoration projects.

(Yreka, Calif.) — On Tuesday, March 27, California Trout will present the latest installment of its Water Talks series at the Yreka Community Center at 810 North Oregon St. in Yreka from 6 - 8 p.m. This is the first Water Talks to be held in Yreka.

The program, titled “Water Talks: Putting Watershed Pieces Together in Siskiyou County,” is open to the public and will feature an educational panel presentation about local watershed successes with four women in watershed science working in Siskiyou County. Presentations will be followed by a question and answer session.

Water Talks is an ongoing series of presentations featuring local and regional experts sharing their knowledge with the public on a range of water-related topics.

Meadow Barr, Water Talks program manager, will introduce speakers and facilitate the question and answer and discussion sessions. Each presenter then gives a 15-minute presentation with a 5-minute clarifying question period. After all presenters have spoken, the floor opens for questions that can involve discussion. There is also time at the end to allow attendees to come up and ask questions of the presenters, Barr said.

The program will feature presentations from Dr. Sari Sommarstrom, watershed consultant, on “Successes in Watershed and Water Management”; Megan Wargo, conservation director of the Pacific Forest Trust on “Working Forest Conservation Easements”; environmental engineer Lisa Unkefer of AquaTerra Consulting on “Tailwater Management and Springs Monitoring”; and Dr. Jennifer Silveira, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service habitat restoration biologist on “Floodplain Restoration in the Yreka Creek watershed.”

Sommarstrom has been involved with many watershed projects in the Scott and Shasta river watersheds, and is now the director of the Scott River Water Trust, in addition to her work as a consultant.

“As a self-employed consultant, I’ve been involved in water resources and watershed management for more than 30 years,” Sommarstrom said. “I’ve seen successes and failures. I will talk about the 20 years of success on the French Creek watershed as well as about the first water trust in the state, the Scott River Water Trust.”

Unkefer implemented an extensive tailwater reduction project for the Shasta Valley Resource Conservation District (SVRCD) that helped landowners reduce their impact on the water quality of the Shasta River.

“As a consultant with an engineering background,” Unkefer said, “I like to use a science-based approach to steer watershed management decisions. I will present on how effective this approach was in evaluating the vulnerability of the springs in the Mount Shasta area, as well as prioritizing tailwater (agricultural irrigation run-off) impacts in the Shasta Valley.”

As a member of community volunteer groups and as a habitat restoration biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Silveira has participated in watershed restoration efforts on many different levels throughout the Klamath watershed.

“At the Water Talks I will be presenting about how the city of Yreka and several local citizens groups have worked together to restore floodplains and native plants in the Yreka Creek Greenway and Greenhorn Park,” Silveira said.

Wargo said her group, the Pacific Forest Trust, uses voluntary conservation easements to achieve landscape-scale watershed management.

“I will explain how we use conservation easements as a tool to promote water quality, enhance public recreational opportunities, conserve wildlife habitat and maintain continued, sustainable timber harvesting on private lands,” Wargo said.

Water Talks background

In 2008, California Trout initiated the Water Talks program to help local residents better understand the Mount Shasta area’s unique watersheds and water resource issues.

“The topics for Water Talks are generated from the community. The talks provide education from a diverse range of perspectives so the audience can form their own opinions,” Barr said. “Audience engagement is evident in the quality of questions and discussion at the events and unsolicited constructive feedback from the community on how to improve future talks.”

Dave Webb of the SVRCD weighed in as well.

“Water in Siskiyou County is a terribly touchy topic, all too often not the subject of polite conversation,” he said. “And underground geology, water law and the details of water use are all topics most people never have an opportunity to learn about.”

For more information, contact Barr at 859-1411 or


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