Article and Photos By Melissa Wynn and Nils Lunder
On September 12, 2015 a problem with the drainage gate at the Indian Ole Dam paired with very low water levels led to the complete draining of Mountain Meadows Reservoir, known to Westwood locals as Walker Lake. This reservoir, used for hydroelectric power and managed by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), has been a favorite fishing, duck hunting and kayaking spot for locals for decades. The draining of the reservoir killed most of the fish that lived there. In response to this devastating event the Mountain Meadows Conservancy developed the Friends of Mountain Meadows Group. This collective of local residents, agencies, staff from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and other interested parties meet quarterly to talk about the reservoir and other issues related to the Westwood area.
Restoration of this beloved place has been occurring since the spring of 2016 and is now in full swing thanks to the combined efforts of the Mountain Meadows Conservancy of Westwood, PG&E (who owns the reservoir) and, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). CDFW has installed a number of bass habitat structures in the reservoir. They have planted 70 bass, several hundred Sacramento Perch and several thousand rainbow trout. PG&E recently donated $2,500 to purchase additional bass.
On July 13, 2018 another stocking of largemouth bass took place. Tony Vaught of Professional Aquaculture delivered
1000 young bass including 400 of which were over 6 inches in length. Mr. Vaught generously waived the delivery fee having grown up in the area with a personal interest in Walker Lake. Local angler Mac McCormick led area fisheries biologist Paul Divine of CDFW to a variety of locations on the reservoir to stock the bass. CDFW also has plans to do an electrofishing effort this fall to more accurately assess the current fish population of the reservoir. Nils Lunder, Director of MMC and Westwood local, Mac McCormick, are currently leading the effort to raise an additional $2500 to purchase an additional 1000 bass to plant in the reservoir. More funds are needed to buy the bass, so please consider donating some money to this effort. In no time at all locals will be back to fishing on Walker Lake just like in the old days.
Plans are also in motion to make improvements to the area near the Indian Ole Dam. This project is being led by Mountain Meadows Conservancy and will include an improved parking area and increased public accessibility, a ½ mile walking trail, benches along the trail, picnic tables, maps, signs, and a toilet. Work on this project is set to begin in 2019. Help will be needed and anyone interested in participating should contact MMC or Director, Nils Lunder, at [email protected] or by phone at 530-256-3982 (office) or 530-258-6936 (cell). Every little bit of help counts.
Mountain Meadows Conservancy recently teamed up with the Feather River Land Trust to purchase an 8 acre property along Robbers Creek at the end of Delwood Street in Westwood that they are calling the Mountain Meadows Gateway project. They are working to clean up the property and develop it into a public access facility that will lead to the north shore of Walker Lake that will eventually have a picnic area and trailheads leading to the shoreline of the reservoir. Much work was required to clean up the area and prepare it for the project. Most of this intensive labor was provided by the P-CREW.
P-CREW stands for for Plumas Conservation, Restoration and Education in Watersheds and is a group of High School students recruited and paid by the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment based in Taylorsville.