Raccoon – Puzzler & Mastermind

Origin & Name Raccoons evolved around water sources. People observing them gave them names describing their ‘washing’ behavior. Scientific name – Procyon lotor means “before-dog washer” in Latin Aztecs – Mapachitli – “one who takes everything in its hands” Chinese – Orsetto lavatore “little-bear washing” Garman – Waschbär – “wash-bear” Italian – Araiguma – “washing-bear” Algonquian / Powhatan Indian – …

North American Beaver – Water Banker

History In 1805, Lewis and Clark saw beaver dams “extending as far up those streams as [we] could discover them.” Even before the famous explorers, French trappers and traders were drawn to the land teeming with beaver. The beaver is North America’s largest rodent. Its pelt is waterproof and has a double layer of insulation making it highly desirable for human …

American River Watershed & Lake Tahoe

Most rivers in California have been changed by mining, water control, and the introduction of new species. Professor Erika Zavaleta of UC Santa Cruz explains the history and biology of California’s watersheds. She also presents current watershed management issues.

Tree Mortality & Falling Hazards

First published December 21, 2017 Dead and dying trees in the Tahoe National Forest and Nevada County is a fact of contemporary life. Being aware of hazards that dead trees cause and hyperconscious of fire starting activities will help keep families and neighbors safer.   From 66 million dead trees in 2010 to 129 million in 2017, the State of California …

Miniscule Mountain Beetle Turning Forests Red

First published November 28, 2017 “It’s about the size of a mouse turd,” says Diana Six, Professor of Forest Entomology/Pathology at University of Montana, when describing the Mountain Pine Beetle. Historically, the Mountain Pine Beetle contributed to a healthy forest by eliminating weakened trees, making room for new growth. Cold temperatures kept populations in check, only 20% of larvae would …

Sierran Tree Frog with Chemical Sensitivities

First published July 9, 2017 Even though it has ‘tree’ in its name, the Sierran Tree Frog is mostly found near the ground. Habitat Tree frogs live in bushes and grass. Their preference is for damp, moist areas. Behavior Large toe pads that allow it to walk on vertical surfaces. The toe pads are also useful for clinging to sticks and twigs. …

Hungry Bears Losing Ground & Helping Humans Burn Fat

First published September 24, 2017 As of 2012, the American Black Bear population living in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range was estimated at 10,000 bears. Mostly, they live at higher elevation levels, 3,000 feet and above, in areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service or the National Parks. There is about one bear per square mile. A rough estimate of Nevada County’s high …

Dammed Disrupted Salmon

First published May 23, 2017 When responding to the urge to spawn, Salmon become a powerful delivery system. If allowed to move freely through rivers and streams, they transport ocean nitrogen and other nutrients thousands of miles inland while providing humans and animals with a rich source of food. They did this successfully until man decided to industrialize their reproduction. …

Mining Pollution Legacy and Clean-Up

First published May 21, 2017 In the mid-1850’s hydraulic mining filled the stream channels and muddied the waters all the way down to the Pacific Ocean. Mercury was used in sluice boxes to amalgamate gold. “It is estimated that ten million pounds of mercury were lost into the streams,” comments Kyle Leach, Geologist for Sierra Streams Institute. “The tale of the Gold Rush …

Development of Lake Wildwood & Current Events

First published May 21, 2017 “Ed Colwell owned the Anthony House [current location of Lake Wildwood] before Boise Cascade bought it…  He had peacocks and big white geese, which he would rent out for such things [as] pulling weeds from spinach beds. He raised turkeys and some cows. Mostly, however, he raised horses. He had 300 brook mares and one Palomino stud…He …