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U.S. Forest Service

Tadpole Fen Restoration for Botrychium minganense

Kathy Van Zuuk, Tahoe National Forest

Botrychium minganese Botrychium minganese. Photo was taken by Tim Ditzman.

Tadpole Fen is located on the Tahoe National Forest, American River Ranger District near Duncan Peak. Fens are unique plant communities and are on the Tahoe National Forest watch list. A fen is a wetland that has at least 20 to 40 centimeters of peat. There are less than five fens known to occur on the entire American River Ranger District. Tadpole Fen is the only known location of Botrychium minganense on Tahoe National Forest system lands. Botrychium minganese is a small fern with sterile and fertile portions and is a Tahoe National Forest sensitive plant species.

In April of 2013, at least two 4-wheel drive vehicles illegally entered Tadpole Fen damaging this important ecosystem. Some ruts were over a foot deep and all ruts had running water during the spring of 2013. David Merritt, USDA Rocky Mountain Research Station and Colorado State University, and David Cooper, Colorado State University, both experts in riparian ecosystems were contacted to determine the best restoration techniques for this site. It was determined that raking the peat back into place and blocking future access were the best methods to use. Restoration needed to happen quickly since maintenance of the hydrology is one of the most important elements of fen maintenance and health. Direct damage to the Botrychium minganense occurrence did not occur. However, the hydrologic changes within the fen were indirectly affecting it.

Kathy Van Zuuk, West Zone Botanist, Tahoe National Forest, was the technical advisor for the American River Ranger District. Emergency restoration activities were needed to prevent further damage. Therefore, the restoration activities were categorically excluded from the NEPA process. The district paid for this project using existing district funds.

Grazing impacts to fen on the eastide of Meathouse Meadow. Tadpole fen ruts. American River Ranger District employees and the Green Corp raked in the ruts. Photo by the American River Ranger District.

In early May of 2013, American River Ranger District employees and the Green Corp, a program designed to take veterans and retrain them for civilian work, raked in the ruts and blocked access to the fen. Monitoring of this restoration in 2013 showed that restricting the vehicle access was working and that the vehicle ruts had revegetated. Tadpole Fen will also be monitored in 2014 to make sure the vehicle access is working and the ruts have continued to revegetate.