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Snow River Ecosystem “SnowPACT” January 27, 2006.

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Presentation on theme: "Snow River Ecosystem “SnowPACT” January 27, 2006."— Presentation transcript:

1 Snow River Ecosystem “SnowPACT” January 27, 2006

2 The Snow River Ecosystem Compact The ecosystem is a medium sized watershed of 300,000 square acres located in the intermountain west. About 50% of the region is commercial coniferous forest. The region is mountainous, with high elevation meadows, and lower grasslands which are used for ranching.

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4 Red Cliff Escarpment Crossing the region from west to east Provides homes for many big-eared bats via one maternal cave and two bachelor caves Elk migrate to this region each fall

5 Henry Memorial State Park - Three sections lying north of Red Cliff - Comprised mainly of ponderosa pine - good habitat for threatened American marten - Easternmost section has large are of old-growth forest

6 Snow Ri ver and Bluestone River Snow River is home to the Snow River cutthroat trout (known as the Snow River cutter), a subspecies of the Bluestone cutthroat – A small population of Snow River cutters also exists in Middle Creek

7 KARMA - The Kachina Arch Resource Management Area Part of the region is made up of a mountain meadow ecosytem – A unique home for the pale swallowtail butterfly Includes Pine Lake and parts of Middle Creek – Pine Lake has large Rainbow trout population Want to reintroduce bison to the area

8 Ciguena Marsh A lowland riparian area along North Creek, south of the Red Cliff Escarpment Migration zone for the American avocet Home to many wetland waterfowl, birds, amphibians, and unique marsh plants

9 Bluff Canyon Larely made up of high elevation forest Contains a bachelor cave for the federally threatened big-eared bat Contains the eastern part of Ciguena Marsh

10 Major Species, Populations and Communities of Interest Major species of animals include: Grizzly Bear Elk Grey Wolves Bald Eagles Various species of trout. Threatened species such as the American marten and big-eared bats.

11 Major Species, Populations and Communities of Interest Major tree species: Upper Elevations- Subalpine fir, Englemann spruce Mid Elevations- Western larch, Douglas-fir, Ponderosa Pine Western white pine group – Dominated by Western white pine, also includes: Western red cedar, Western hemlock and grand fir. Lodgepole pine inhabits slopes and basins Ponderosa pine inhabits south facing slopes and dries sites

12 Major Species, Populations and Communities of Interest All animal populations are directly related to habitat and amount of food. The encroaching ranches limit wildland, forcing animal ranges to narrow. The grizzly bear populations fluctuate with the populations of its prey, like the trout. Wolves also experience this predator/prey relationship. Elk mainly experience decline when habitat is lost, while trout populations suffer as water pollution increases.

13 Interesting People and Groups of SnowPACT The north and east consist of commercial forest owned by individuals and family trusts. Many of these individuals work in cooperation with large timer companies. Timber companies help manage the land in exchange for purchasing the wood at a small premium over market price.

14 Interesting People and Groups of SnowPACT The commercial forest lands of the northwest is dominated by a small family company called Westfir. They have held this property of over half a million acres for 100 years. Katherine Slater is the CEO of Westfir, who is a forest engineer. The Bureau of Land Management is the other major federal land management agency with holdings in the watershed.

15 Interesting People and Groups of SnowPACT Members of the Semak Nation own 10,000 acres within the southwestern portion of the Snow River watershed. The Semak is a fully recognized sovereign nation of Native Americans. They are large scale ranchers

16 Interesting People and Groups of SnowPACT Rock Climbers International (ROCin’) A major interest group for both professional and amateur rock climbers, moved to Altavista in 1984 because of the Red Cliff escarpment. Rocin’ teaches courses for professional rock-climbing guides and instructors and every spring they sponsor a climbing competition.

17 Resources of SnowPACT Fresh water with numerous streams, timber, grazing area, scenic areas and cliffs for tourism. Unique habitats such as the Ciguena Marsh and mountain-meadows. Threatened species of animals, and those that require large areas of land to survive.

18 History of SnowPACT Because of increasing interests in the gold deposits in the area, a treaty is formed with the Semak nation, which ceded most of the land to the miners save 40,000 acres. On this reservation, the Semaks continued to use the land for hunting, fishing and other customs. In 1849, the real gold rush causes a decline in interest for the Snow river area in terms of gold mining. Some operations still operated intermittently though, until the 1930’s (the Great Depression). At this time some mines were abandoned leaving materials and equipment exposed to the environment. In these areas, odors and strange colors can be observed after heavy rains even up to this day.

19 History of SnowPACT The known history of the Snow River system begins with the use of the region as a winter home for the Seminomadic tribes largely because of the sheltering it provided as well as spiritual significance the area had to them. In 1840, reports of gold in the river caused a “mini-gold rush” to the region. It is at this time the town of Altavista is founded.

20 Major Problems Pollution from past coal mining operations Falling cattle prices and increasing land values mean increasing pressure by developers, particularly in the Bluff Canyon area and Sam Henry parks as well. Reintroduction of American bison opposed by Semaks and Red Cliff Association.

21 Major Problems The Semaks are at odds with tourism at Kachina arch, as it violates their sacred ground. People of Altavista oppose ecological restoration of area and removal of dam on pine lake.

22 Working in the Ecosystem The snow river watershed is a diverse ecosystem with many opportunities and advantages to living and working here. If you want a great challenge, this is the place to go. However, it would be extremely difficult to manage the many conflicting interests of different people living here. Many residents of the area are interested in the different public lands for recreational purposes, while others are focused on how to utilize land for ranching purposes. Also located in the ecosystem are private land owners, and a Native American reservation. All of these different shareholders in the Snow river watershed creates conflicting interests in how the land should be used, and therefore would probably not be the most desirable place to live and work.


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