Ruth Lake Restoration Project
Location: Ruth Lake, California, USA
This project will restore and replant 600 acres of California forest that was burned in the August Complex Fire of 2020. The land will be site prepped and then hand planted at a density of approximately 222 trees per acre. The land around Ruth Lake is managed as a recreation area for the public. Ruth Lake is the District's source of drinking water for over 88,000 customers. The water travels 75 miles from Ruth Lake to our District facilities in Arcata where it is treated and distributed. The District has a prevention plan in place to help protect Ruth Lake from invasive species such as Quagga Mussels.
This project will bring a range of social and environmental benefits to the local area and community as well as to the State of California as a whole. The immediate local ecological benefits of reforestation include reduced post fire erosion, enhanced water quality and quantity, as well as wildlife habitat. The restoration and preservation of watersheds are particularly crucial to California in the face of Climate Change and the state's already limited water supply. This project takes place in watersheds that are both important to the state water supply and which have been hard hit by fire. Some of the land in this planting project is owned by a small water utility that provides water services the local community. This project is a great example when there is a not clear distinction between the ecological benefits and the community benefits. They are the same.
In addition to the local benefits are climate and global benefits offered by planting trees. The climate is a resource upon which all human and non-human species depend. On a global scale and with respect to the climate benefits of this project, planting a tree in California after a fire will sequester carbon and benefit all of humanity. This project in particular will offer long term climate benefits because it is taking place on land intended to be sustainably managed in perpetuity.
This project is taking place in a rural community that is economically dependent on natural resources. This project will have immediate economic benefits such as employment of planting crews and foresters as well as the more general economic activity of planting crews spending money at local shops, restaurants, and hotels.
On a less economic, but no less important note, planting trees after fires offers hope for recently devastated communities and a sense of collectively building a future. This is a very real benefit.
Tree Species78,000 Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga Menzies (65%)
42,000 Ponderosa Pine, Pinus Ponderosa (35%)