Around 30 volunteers, including Woodside High School (Redwood City, Calif.) students and Coca-Cola employees, revisited the Indian Valley Restoration Project site on the Eldorado National Forest recently to see the outcome of meadow restoration work that was completed in October 2012.
Coca-Cola and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation — two of several U.S. Forest Service partners — also returned to see the effects of the project, conduct follow-up work and participate in conservation activities.
Last year, volunteers planted willows that assisted in creating a series of dams in the meadow streams. By slowing down the erosion of these streams, they hoped to increase the amount of groundwater. The Mokelumne River, which flows from Indian Valley Meadow more than 150 miles to the San Francisco Bay Area, provides clean water to downstream residents and native species. As a result of those efforts, the groundwater has risen one foot this year, despite it being one of the driest years in recent California history. Everyone was pleased to see that water was pooling in ponds everywhere in the meadow.
“I feel overwhelmed about the thought that we can be a part of putting water back into the system and achieve good, clean water by supporting the watershed,” said Tim Heinen, vice president of field operations for the Western Region of Coca-Cola.
Coca-Cola and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation contributed funds for the project. A American Rivers, a leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams, is monitoring the project.
“This partnership is exciting (because) it proves folks can come together to do good things,” said Steve Rothert, American Rivers’ director for California. “After one year, we're already seeing a more restored meadow and tangible results for the water supply.
And it’s gratifying to see Woodside High School kids out here to do this work They can see the potential career paths to make the world a greater place.”
All of the partners expressed a clear and strong desire to work with the Forest Service on future projects.
”The commitment that Coca-Cola, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, American Rivers and our other partners have in caring for the environment for today’s and future generations is impressive,” said Barnie Gyant, deputy regional forester for the Pacific Southwest Region. “In particular, the support by Coca-Cola of the Woodside High School students to provide today's opportunity really shows a special commitment and makes us, as partners, revisit our own commitment to paying it forward to our youth.”