PRECIOUS SIERRA WATER, NEVADA WILDERNESS, RALLYING
Climate change portends less snowfall in the Sierras, and that means less water in watersheds.
Climate change portends less snowfall in the Sierras, and that means less water in California's Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds, two of the nation's most important and sensitive estuary systems. Snow melt from the Sierras feeds $400 billion in economic activities, supports four million acres of farmland, and supplies drinking water for more than 23 million people. In another look at how the Natural Resources Conservation Service works with communities, farmers and agencies, we follow the Cosumnes River and see how NRCS advisors assist in improving water quality and quantity along the downstream flow from the mountains to the coast. In the dry, harsh landscape between Las Vegas and Reno, most people see only a wasteland without much value except as a site for gold and silver mines. The mining boom days are long past, yet they still affect the way many people think about public lands like Emigrant Peak, Volcanic Hills, and Silver Peak. But now a growing number of Nevadans are beginning to appreciate the sustainable value of these lands as destinations for outdoor recreation. Visitors see a stunning variety of landscapes: the dust-dry Mojave desert, verdant marshes and pools, a maze of steep canyons with near vertical walls - a rugged and serene world that is far away in both distance and time. In Colorado, the Hermosa Creek Watershed north of Durango encompasses one of the state's largest, biologically diverse forests, including some of the biggest stands of old-growth ponderosa pine remaining in the San Juan Mountains. Most of the watershed is roadless and generally unblemished by past human activities, so it's an ideal home for native Colorado River cutthroat trout, rare Canada lynx, and vast herds of deer and elk that draw thousands of hunters annually. An expansive trail system attracts countless hikers, mountain bikers, hunters, horseback users, and other recreational enthusiasts. In a landmark collaboration, a working group of diverse local interests has developed a long-term conservation plan to manage 108,000 acres so that much of it would still remain open to historic uses - including mountain biking, motorized recreation, selective timber harvesting and grazing, while also designating some 37,000 acres of wilderness and a 43,000-acre roadless area. Ice cores may be the closest things scientists have to a time machine. They provide remarkably accurate details about the environment from tens of thousands of years ago. They can also help researchers look into the future of the changing climate on our planet.