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A Guide to Climate-Smart Meadow Restoration

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Point Blue is excited to share a new climate-smart restoration guide focused on mountain meadow habitats. We hope that our partners will join us in implementing this approach to improve water quality, timing, and yield; enhance habitat for target wildlife; improve soil health; and sequester more carbon. Take a peek at part of the introduction and the table of contents below and please download and share the full guide.

Introduction Excerpt

This handbook provides restoration practitioners with guidance to incorporate climate change considerations into the planning and design of Sierra Nevada meadow restoration projects. Implementation of the recommended approaches and best management practices in this handbook can help practitioners increase the probability that restored meadows are resilient to the consequences of climate change.

Sierra Nevada meadows are a rare and critically important component of California’s Sierra Nevada ecosystem, the value of which far outweighs the 2% of the system they occupy. Meadows provide vital ecological functions, including carbon storage, groundwater recharge, flood attenuation, water quality improvement, and habitat for a diversity of species, including many of conservation concern. However, 40-60% of meadows are degraded as a result of past and current land uses and hence are in urgent need of conservation action to restore their important ecological services for the benefit of human and natural communities (Drew et al. 2016).

The Sierra Meadows Partnership (SMP) was formed in 2016 to address this widespread meadow degradation, setting the goal of restoring and protecting 30,000 acres of Sierra meadows by 2030 to enhance water, carbon, and biodiversity benefits. The SMP’s strategy and goal reflects that of numerous state and federal agencies and organizations that also recognize the importance of restoring Sierra meadows as a conservation priority (e.g., National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 2010; California Natural Resources Agency et al. 2014; USDA Forest Service 2015; Watershed Improvement Program 2016).

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Table of Contents
Introduction ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4
Handbook Outline ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 5
Section I: Conducting a climate vulnerability assessment …………………………………………………………………. 5
Step 1: Define objectives and desired outcomes. ………………………………………………………………………… 6
Step 2: Gather relevant data ……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 7
Step 3: Assess climate vulnerabilities ……………………………………………………………………………………….. 12
Step 4: Identify climate-smart restoration actions and adaptation approaches. …………………………….. 12
Section II: A vulnerability assessment for Sierra meadows ……………………………………………………………… 14
Desired Outcome: Functional Meadow Hydrology …………………………………………………………………….. 15
Desired Outcome: Good Water Quality …………………………………………………………………………………….. 16
Desired Outcome: Healthy Meadow Soil …………………………………………………………………………………… 19
Desired Outcome: Meadow Plant Species …………………………………………………………………………………. 19
Desired Outcome: Meadow Wildlife ………………………………………………………………………………………… 21
Section III: Additional climate-smart best management practices ……………………………………………………. 22
Consider the broader context ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 22
Experimentation and risk ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 23
Adaptive management and monitoring …………………………………………………………………………………….. 25
Include the human community ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 25
Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 25
Acknowledgments ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 26
References ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 27
Appendix A: Project Planning Worksheet ……………………………………………………………………………………… 30
Step 1: Define objectives and desired outcomes. ………………………………………………………………………. 30
Step 2: Gather relevant data. …………………………………………………………………………………………………… 31
Step 3: Assess climate impacts and vulnerabilities in the context of desired outcomes. …………………. 32
Step 4: Identify climate-smart restoration actions and adaptation approaches. …………………………….. 33
Step 5: Monitor effectiveness of implemented actions. ……………………………………………………………… 34
Appendix B: Vulnerabilities to Meadow Restoration Outcomes ………………………………………………………. 36
Appendix C: Climate-Smart Actions to Address Vulnerabilities ………………………………………………………… 40

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