The field of ecological restoration is growing as quickly as we are destroying habitats, and luckily for nature, there are some expert restorers working on the side of the environment. US Forest Service Rangers in Tahoe Basin are working to restore meadows that were degraded years ago in order to revitalize and conserve the basin ecosystems.
"When a stream channel becomes disconnected," says Craig Oehrli, a hydrologist from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, "several things happen." One, the meadow dries out, leaving it vulnerable for invasive vegetation. This makes the meadow less ecologically resilient, which can in turn affect wildlife and soil chemistry. Stream bank erosion also occurs, bringing sediments from the river into new areas, a problem for the Tahoe Basin. Having recognized such problems in the region, scientists are trying to correct the damage.
Restoration may look invasive from the outside eye. And indeed, there is a lot of heavy machinery and moving around of earth. But the restoration team in Tahoe is confident. "One of the things I've found over and over again in our projects," says hydrologist Stephanie Heller," is that restoration works...we'll come back in a few years and already see the difference in the landscape."