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A river reborn: the American restoration movement brings streams-and communities - back to life.

For Jim Wilcox, an autumn afternoon on Greenhorn greenhorn

a raw, inexperienced person; especially a new cowboy. [Pop. Culture: Misc.]

See : Inexperience
 Creek turned into a fisherman's bonanza - and he didn't even have a pole. Five years ago, Wilcox, a logger turned hydrologist hy·drol·o·gy  
The scientific study of the properties, distribution, and effects of water on the earth's surface, in the soil and underlying rocks, and in the atmosphere.
, found one trout in this mountain stream, a tributary of the Feather River
This article treats the river in California. For other uses see Feather River (disambiguation)

The Feather River is a principal tributary of the Sacramento River, 170 miles in length, in Northern California in the United States.
 in northeastern California. Last fall he counted 59 - rainbows and German browns, half of them over 10 inches long.

Greenhorn Creek's transition from near death to well stocked is not just fishermen's fortune. Wilcox is part of a grassroots alliance The centre-left Grassroots Alliance is a group of elected members on the British Labour Party National Executive Committee, founded in 1998. They represent members from a broad spectrum of the Labour membership, ranging from centrists to left wingers.  which has devoted time, energy and all the science it could muster to restoring the health of this stream and the entire Feather River watershed, an area as big as Rhode Island Rhode Island, island, United States
Rhode Island, island, 15 mi (24 km) long and 5 mi (8 km) wide, S R.I., at the entrance to Narragansett Bay. It is the largest island in the state, with steep cliffs and excellent beaches.
. Since 1985, the Feather River coalition has controlled erosion on 38 creeks and contributed $5 million to the local economy. It is one of the oldest and most accomplished natural resource alliances in the nation.

But it is no longer unique. In rural communities across the country, watershed partnerships among agencies, landowners and citizens are popping up like mushrooms after a drilling rain. "The movement is called American Restoration and it is an act of faith," says Bruce Babbitt Bruce Edward Babbitt (born June 27, 1938), a Democrat, served as United States Secretary of the Interior and as Governor of Arizona. Biography
Born in Los Angeles, California, Babbitt graduated from the University of Notre Dame, and attended the University of Newcastle
, Secretary of the Interior. "As American communities use our laws to restore their waters, those waters, in turn, restore our communities."

* In eastern Idaho, severe sedimentation in Henry's Fork galvanized gal·va·nize  
tr.v. gal·va·nized, gal·va·niz·ing, gal·va·niz·es
1. To stimulate or shock with an electric current.

 a group of citizens to create a comprehensive plan to manage more than 3,000 miles of river and irrigation irrigation, in agriculture, artificial watering of the land. Although used chiefly in regions with annual rainfall of less than 20 in. (51 cm), it is also used in wetter areas to grow certain crops, e.g., rice.  canals near the southwestern corner of Yellowstone National Park Yellowstone National Park, 2,219,791 acres (899,015 hectares), the world's first national park (est. 1872), NW Wyo., extending into Montana and Idaho. It lies mainly on a broad plateau in the Rocky Mts., on the Continental Divide, c. . The Henry's Fork Watershed Council brings together 25 often antagonistic groups to solve problems caused by cattle grazing, irrigation diversions and siltation. Rob Van Kirk, research director, says, "Our mission is to understand, restore and protect."

* In Trimble, Ohio Trimble is a village in Athens County, Ohio, United States. The population was 466 at the 2000 census. Geography
Trimble is located at  (39.485312, -82.079094),GR1 along Sunday Creek.
, the Monday Creek Monday Creek is a tributary of the Hocking River, 27 miles (43.5 km) long, in southeastern Ohio in the United States. Via the Hocking and Ohio Rivers, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River, draining an area of 116 square miles (300 km²) on the unglaciated portion of  Restoration Project is taking on the social and environmental devastation left by over a century of coal mining. Jerry Iles, a VISTA volunteer who serves as assistant coordinator, says "Mining provided jobs but left heavily acidic water - some streams are bright orange. We are trying to teach that restoration pays." The project set simple goals: swimming and fishing in Monday Creek. Achieving them has involved stream sweeps, log-jam removals and tree plantings, as well as abatement of acid mine drainage Acid mine drainage (AMD), or acid rock drainage (ARD), refers to the outflow of acidic water from (usually) abandoned metal mines or coal mines. However, other areas where the earth has been disturbed (e.g. .

* In Cuba, New Mexico Cuba is a village in Sandoval County, New Mexico, in the United States. As of the 2000 census, the village population was 590. A fast growing town located off the busy 550 highway, Cuba has a large amount of new construction, and several hotels, restaurants and bars. , a new group was formed to address pollution washing into the Rio Puerco watershed, a 2.2-million-acre swath running from northwestern New Mexico south to the Rio Grande. The Rio Puerco Watershed Interagency Group, whose membership includes farmers, ranchers and agency landowners, develops scientific information and is collecting historic photographs to create a pictorial study of watershed changes. It plans to get involved in on-the-ground projects that support both economic growth and stability of the Rio Puerco.

In California, the Feather River alliance held its first meeting in an atmosphere of deep distrust. Decades of free-wheeling timber harvests on forests throughout the West had triggered a barrage of environmental lawsuits. The ensuing battle was wreaking havoc on small towns in Plumas County, where Wilcox lives. The group formed to protect the Feather River was not an obvious alliance. Its members were traditional enemies: loggers and environmentalists; ranchers and state officials; anglers and the Army Corps of Engineers. The one thing they shared was a deep knowledge of the local watershed and the hope that it could be reborn.

Wilcox was hired as a project manager by the newly created Plumas Corporation, a county nonprofit development corporation coordinating the activities of the alliance. He bought a pair of hip boots and headed for Greenhorn Creek. In 1991, the stream was a sad little trickle sputtering A popular method for adhering thin films onto a substrate. Sputtering is done by bombarding a target material with a charged gas (typically argon) which releases atoms in the target that coats the nearby substrate. It all takes place inside a magnetron vacuum chamber under low pressure.  past a graveyard of car bodies crushed into barren and deeply eroded banks. No one had caught a trophy trout in years.

Bob and Dorothy Farnworth, owners of a 230-acre ranch straddling strad·dle  
v. strad·dled, strad·dling, strad·dles
a. To stand or sit with a leg on each side of; bestride: straddle a horse.

 Greenhorn Creek, had tried to halt the loss of topsoil, fish and wildlife habitat, but without much success. In frustration, they turned to the Feather River Alliance for help. The group accumulated $400,000 by scratching together grants from a local developer along with funds from state and federal agencies. The restoration project along a half mile of Greenhorn Creek was designed as a model for managing the fishery and surrounding pasture land.

Wilcox spent five months in and around Greenhorn Creek. He supervised bank stabilization and construction, which returned the natural meandering path of the creek. He helped create a grazing management plan, installed a recreational trail, and set up a monitoring program with the help of a local high school. Then he waited. Five years. When he tallied the fish count last year at 500 trout per mile, Wilcox came as close to dancing a jig as his waders would allow. "We started out wondering: If we built it, would they come? They sure did," he says.

What has worked in the Feather River watershed can work anywhere people are committed to the future of natural resources, says Leah Wills, an economist with Plumas Corporation who has coordinated the alliance since its inception. The first battle, she says, is to change the mind-set and begin the long-term investment in natural resources that can stabilize rural economies. "If we take care of our resource base, it will take care of us - the same way any entrepreneur's capital pays dividends for good management," she says.

The partnerships forming from Alaska's Kenai River to the Florida Everglades are demonstrating a process for making management decisions which include local people whose experiences have generally been ignored. "We're all responsible for the wrecks we create or prevent," says Wills. "If we're really serious about this new democracy and a reinvested government, it's going to take a huge structural shift."

Dangling his feet off a log over Greenhorn Creek, Wilcox is keeping time with the bobbing of a dipper dipper, common name for the only aquatic member of the order Perciformes (perching birds) found near cold mountain streams. With their short, stubby wings and tails and their thick brownish plumage, dippers are thought to be closely related to the wrens.  bird dining in the rushing water 10 yards away. A winter's storm may wash out sections of the bank he has rebuilt. Drought may slow the return of the trout. But the process for restoring creeks like Greenhorn has sent its roots deep into communities across the country. "I will be here in this watershed doing just what I'm doing until I keel over," Wilcox says. CONTACT: Feather River Coordinated Resource Management Group, PO Box 3880, Quincy, CA 95971/(530)283-3739.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Earth Action Network, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Date:Mar 1, 1998
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