Work begins this summer to rescue Hope Valley aspens

Hope Valley aspens' golden leaves draw visitors to Alpine County every fall.

Hope Valley aspens' golden leaves draw visitors to Alpine County every fall.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

Hope Valley is famous for its fall colors, and a federal project is designed to help rescue the aspens that generate that color from encroachment by pines.

A fuels reduction, aspen and meadow restoration project is scheduled for this summer in the Carson River’s West Fork watershed, according to the National Forest Foundation, in partnership with the Carson Ranger District of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, and Alpine Watershed Group.

“The aspen ecosystem in the West Fork Carson River watershed has steadily declined from environmental factors, including drought, conifer encroachment, and sudden aspen death,” officials said on Wednesday. “In addition, areas of dense conifer are increasing risk of wildfire, and meadows are also being impacted by conifer encroachment.”

Contractors will remove conifers from seven units near Alpine County’s Hope Valley beginning in early summer 2022 via hand cut methods through a combination of the Civilian Conservation Corps, American Conservation Experience, and private industry crews.

The water group will conduct baseline aspen monitoring prior to conifer removal. Annual monitoring will occur for the next three years in the fall before the aspens drop their leaves.

“We hope this data will help determine the success of aspen regeneration and reestablishment following conifer removals,” said Group Watershed Coordinator Rachel Kieffer.

Project partners will also work together on an educational video to tell the story of the restoration project.

Foundation Sierra Nevada Program Senior Manager Matt Millar said he is thrilled to have put together this partnership.

“I have been coming to Hope Valley since I was a kid,” he said. “It is an honor and a privilege to get to work with the Carson Ranger District and AWG on this much needed project.”

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife through California’s Proposition 1 is funding the project.

U.S. Forest Service Forester Annabelle Monti said collaborations like this project are critical.

“With the last several fire seasons, we’re seeing the need to increase the pace and scale at which forest management is taking place,” Monti said. “Having such an incredible collaboration of partners with this project has allowed exactly that—and we’re so excited not only to see this project implemented but begin planning more restoration work in such important ecosystems.”

A tour of the project is 5:30-7:30 p.m. July 12. To RSVP, visit



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