YearMonthDayTimeEnd YearEnd MonthEnd DayEnd TimeDisplay DateHeadlineTextMediaMedia CreditMedia CaptionMedia ThumbnailTypeGroupBackground
12001849The Sagehen forest formsWith the retreat of the North American ice sheet 13,000 years ago, the northern steppe grasslands vanished as the sea and trees rose. Following hot on their heels, humans moved onto the continent for the first time, and immediately began managing the landscape.<br /></br>By 1200 CE in the Sagehen basin, the Washoe tribe arrived seasonally to hunt and harvest before descending to milder climes for the winter. On their way out every year, they lit the forest on fire as their ancestors had done for thousands of years. The western forests adapted to this low-intensity, creeping fire, coming to depend on it to maintain nutrient cycling, to clear spaces in the understory, and to create productive habitat.History
18491865California Gold Rush<i>"The westward-moving hordes of humanity caught up in the California gold rush, historian Dale Morgan once asserted, <a href="">'altered the course of history in so many ways that scholars will never trace them all'.</a><br /></br>The 49ers influenced national and world population movements, economies, finance, politics, transportation and settlement patterns.<br /></br>On the local and regional level [like in Truckee-Tahoe], their impact was similarly felt. In a short span of years the native population was decimated, roads penetrated the wilderness, and mining towns dotted a landscape uninhabited by Euro-Americans just a year or two before."</i> The densely-settled new inhabitant's need for food and resources quickly strained or even wiped out native wildlife and plant populations.<br /></br>This era marked the end of thousands of years of Native American sustainable management of the Sagehen forest.History
18741889Comstock-era timber operations in Sagehen BasinIn this era, most Truckee River headwater basins had at least one lumber mill. The extracted wood primarily went to Virginia City to support the silver strike as building material, mine supports, and fuel for the steam engines that replaced oxen and mules.<br /><br />Banner Mill was the largest Truckee basin producer. Located between the Sagehen station and the front gate where the railroad used to cross the creek, Banner turned out 100,000 board feet of lumber every 12-hour shift.<br /><br />In the 1870's and 1880's, <a href="">Abner Weed also ran a fuelwood operation in the basin</a> using the smaller trees and slash left after the logging. Abner left for Siskiyou County in 1889, where he founded the city of Weed, CA (presumably when the trees were gone from Sagehen).<br /><br />The timber industry effectively denuded the region, leaving us with an environmental legacy of altered ecology that we are still struggling to return to function, sustainability, and resilience. Donner Historical SocietyLarge diameter logs were cut from Truckee-area forests and carried on huge log trucks pulled by oxen.<br /><br />In background: Abner Weed's 1889 cordwood piles still stacked in Sagehen basin in 2018.History
1935The US Forest Service acquires Sagehen Basin<a href="">The US Forest Service formed in 1905 in response to the illegal pillaging of forested western public land by commercial logging and grazing interests.</a><br /><br />In addition to the management change, the 1930's marked the beginning of regular data collection at Sagehen, with aerial photography and snow transects to evaluate vegetation cover and water supply.<br /><br />Non-native trout stocking in adjacent Independence Lake began in 1931, threatening or extirpating the native Lahontan Cutthroat throughout the headwaters, including Sagehen. Trapped to extinction, the 1930's also provided the last glimpse of the California wolverine, which followed the last California Grizzly bears and Gray wolves in the 1920's.<br /><br />As a division of the Department of Agricultural (USDA), the new Forest Service focused on managing the public forests for sustainable timber extraction and water yield; it was not about preserving habitat or aesthetic values. They managed Sagehen's forest like a crop, suppressing fire to maximize yield, leaving the unmarketable wood on the ground, and neglecting all other forest values. And although the new Forest Service had inherited a badly damaged ecosystem, until recently their policies did little to reverse that damage and avoid the uncontrolled wildfire of our current era.History
19511965Paul (P. R., "Doc") Needham<i><b>Faculty Director</b></i><br /><br />P. R. Needham was a stream insect specialist, hired from Oregon to help A. Starker Leopold begin the new UC fisheries and wildlife program that, depending on which story you believe, 1) The legislature requested UC to begin; or 2) The plugged-in Leopold convinced the state legislature to fund.<br /><br />For a field study site, Leopold and Needham settled on Sagehen Creek for its reasonably undisturbed hydrological condition, year-round flow, and naturally occurring side channels that allowed the <a href="">pump-and-drain stream transects</a> that Needham envisioned.<br /><br />Along with the actual station construction and Leopold's wildlife courses, these examinations of the creek fish and insect populations were a primary focus of the Station's first 10 years. ("Doc") Needham on a site reconn in 1950.Staff#333333
19512018Sagehen Creek &nbsp;Field StationThe timeline includes important events and discoveries in Sagehen's history, as well as the station's staff up to 2018*:<br /><ul><li>Faculty Directors (responsible for campus relations)</li><li>Station Managers (responsible for station operations and programs)</li><li>Assistant Managers (historically, often an unpaid spouse or student)</li><li>Resident Biologists (responsible for the station research program)</li><li>Stewards (caretakers & carpenters responsible for station facilities and maintenance)</li><li>Cooks (this was a seasonal staff position in the early years)</li><li>Program Staff (education and outreach)</li><li>Contractors (for serious plumbing, excavation, etc.) </li></ul>*Note: in many years, these staff functions and positions were combined or not filled. Felix / UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field StationIn background: sunrise over the Sagehen Basin.titleHistory
1951412Sagehen Creek &nbsp;Field Station begins<i>"In the winter of 1951, representatives of the university and Forest Service skied out to the site. A handshake agreement was made that day, and an official Special Use Permit was signed on April 12, 1951, launching the station."</i><br /><br />A codicil in the agreement would prove helpful to the station's survival in later decades: if the university ever abandons the station, they must restore the forest to natural condition. When you can't afford to run a meager field station operation, you certainly can't afford a multi-million dollar restoration project. Ellis, F. P. Cronemiller, and Howard Smith at the Sagehen site in Jan 1951.History
19521953Glenn Flittner & John Sabath<i><b>Station Managers</b></i><br /><br />Glenn Flittner & John Sabath were the first in a sporadic tradition of grad students living at Sagehen to look after the facility, initially during the winter research season.<br /><br />The first winter was hard, with limited facility, <a href="">still the most snow in the history of the station</a>, and serious isolation: Truckee was just a dying lumber town--skiing wasn't a thing in Tahoe yet.<br /><br />Buried over the eaves, Flittner and Sabath finally had to abandon the station, radio-ing the Truckee Forest Service office to arrange for a snowplow to pick them up on Hwy-89 after they snowshoed out. Flittner operating the stream pump with Doc Needham in 1951.Staff
19521964Station CooksIn the early years, Needham hired a summer cook to prepare meals for the resident staff, graduate students and classes.<br /><br />The cook who gets discussed the most is Rosalie Wilson, whose name was appropriated for a large brown trout that showed up on the stream surveys for several years.<br /><br />In later decades station visitors cooked for themselves, or larger groups would bring their own cook. After kitchen renovations in 2004, hiring a caterer became a frequent option for events and programs with longer stays (and a budget). NeedhamRosalie Wilson, with Rosalie the trout in 1954 (caught and released).Staff
19536Gunnar Soder builds the Station<i><b>Carpenter</b></i><br /><br /><i>"One of Needham’s smart moves was to hire an experienced Swedish carpenter to head up the construction crew. That first summer, under Soder’s direction, the group built a small cabin, two tent platforms, and a storage shed. 'There weren't any plans,' Glenn Flittner recalls. 'P. R. would just sketch something out on a scrap of paper, and we'd go to work.'"</i><br /><br />Soder continued building the Sagehen facility with P. R. for years, largely funded by the <a href="">Max C. Fleischmann Foundation</a> and the National Science Foundation. In the 1970's, fishhouse and diversion weir renovations were funded by the storied <a href="">San Francisco Flycasting Club</a>, which still owns a lengthy stretch of land along the Truckee River beside I-80. Needham with Gunnar Soder (c. 1952).<br /><br />In background: the Fuel Shed and Garage take shape.Staff
19531955Albert Jones & Elbert Brock<i><b>Station Managers</b></i><br /><br />Al Jones and Elbert Brock were the next grad student pair to overwinter as Sagehen caretakers. Jones (c. 1953).Staff
19542018<a href="">"Bug Boot Camp" begins</a> In early summer of 1954, Richard Bohart brought the first session of UC Davis' ENT109 to Sagehen. Phil Ward took over in 1982, and the course is now the longest running one at Sagehen (by a lot).<br /><br />The semester-long course is intense, requiring students to collect 200 Families of only 600 in North America.<br /><br />Because of ENT109 (and collecting by naturalists traveling with emigrant parties passing over the Sierra in the 1800's), we have a deep understanding of the insect fauna of Sagehen and the surrounding area...and the Bohart Museum at UC Davis has an excellent collection of Sagehen insects. tray of Sagehen Lepidoptera.Education
1955Birth of Fluvial GeomorphologyFluvial geomorphology is the study of the interactions between the physical shapes of rivers, their water and sediment transport processes, and the landforms they create. This field of scientific inquiry jump-started when Luna Leopold mapped and monumented stream cross-sections while visiting his brother Starker at Sagehen in the 1950's.<br /><br />Don Erman expanded this work with additional cross sections in the 1970's, and marked pebble transport studies in the 1980's with the USGS' Ned Andrews.<br /><br />Today, the geomorphology tradition continues at Sagehen, with Berkeley's Matt Kondolf and his group (including Don Erman) conducting annual <a href="">River Restoration workshops</a> at the field station using Leopold's original stream transects.Faerthen Felix / UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field StationOne of Erman and Andrew's sediment transport study rocks from the 1980's in 2014.Research
19581962Dick Gard<i><b>Station Manager / Resident Biologist</b></i><br /><br />Dick Gard was the next, and likely longest tenured graduate student Station Manager and Resident Biologist.<br /><br />This caretaker strategy worked great in the early years, with the tightly-knit group of students around Needham living onsite for the entire season (and a professional carpenter to guide construction).<br /><br />But in later decades, individual students were frequently left alone to deal with the station, creating big problems. Substandard utilities and repairs, accidents, and station abandonment were some examples that argued strongly for more consistent professional management. Gard & Max Schreiber doing Sagehen Creek trout surveys (c. 1960).Staff
1960820Donner Ridge FireConstruction crews burning slash at the new I-80 at Donner Summit touched off a fire that quickly spread up-slope and took off.<br /><br />The Donner fire blew through Sagehen's thick, fire-suppressed, second growth forest and masses of leftover slash from the Comstock logging era. The fire ultimately torched a third of the watershed, leaving little still alive.<br /><br />Sagehen's scientists made lemonade, exploring research opportunities in monitoring the return of trees and wildlife over the next 50 years.<br /><br />Raphael et al., 2014. "<a href=""><i>Breeding Bird Populations during Fifty Years of Post-Fire Succession in the Sierra Nevada.</i></a>”
19621981Vernon & Nancy Hawthorne<i><b>Station Managers</b></i><br /><br />Vernon Hawthorne was the station's first professional manager, and also completed a Master's thesis on coyotes at Sagehen. Verne and Nancy raised their family at Sagehen, sledding their son, Seth, out to the highway for the school bus every day in winter.<br /><br />The Hawthornes weren't the only folks to raise their family at Sagehen: <a href="">Dave and June Taylor</a> lived in a tent with their children every summer for years while Dave studied beavers in the 1960's. Their campsite on the access road east of the Lower Camp is still called Taylor Meadow. Hawthorne and a research associate in May, 1968.Staff
19631964Bob Butler<i><b>Resident Biologist</b></i><br /><br />Butler studied Brook trout reproduction at Sagehen during and after his short tenure as Resident Biologist.<br /><br />Butler and Station Manager Vernon Hawthorne produced several 16mm films in the fishhouse, highlighting both the trout's showy spawning behavior, and the "anchor ice" phenomenon: a serendipitous discovery that came from living on site.<br /><ul><li>Butler, R. L. and Hawthorne, V. M. <i><a href="">Reproductive behavior of the brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)</a></i>. Psychological Cinema Register. 1971</li><li>Butler, R. L. and Hawthorne, V. M. <i>Anchor ice, its formation and effects on aquatic life.</i> Science in Agriculture, 26(2):2. 1979</li></ul> Butler filming in the fishhouse (c. 1969).Staff
1964819675Andrew & Sue Sheldon<i><b>Resident Biologist</b></i><br /><br />Dr. Andy Sheldon was Sagehen's last resident biologist of the Needham era. Hired right before Needham died, he watched the station enter a new age. Felix / UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field StationWe buttonhole Dr. Andrew Sheldon when he returns to Sagehen for a Plecoptera Society meeting in 2009.Staff
19651978A. Starker Leopold<i><b>Faculty Director</b></i><br /><br />While the iconic Berkeley Natural History Museums Director, Alden Miller initially filled in after P. R. Needham died unexpectedly, station co-founder A. Starker Leopold soon took over as Sagehen's Faculty Director in charge of the research program and campus relations.<br /><br />Leopold was famous for his gripping lectures and field courses, as well as his powerful political connections and famous family. Starker's father was the seminal conservationist, Aldo Leopold, and <a href="">his brother Luna</a>, an eminent hydrologist who did exploratory stream hydrology work at Sagehen. In total, a record 4 members of the Leopold family were elected to the National Academy of Sciences (Aldo, Starker, Luna and Estella). Starker Leopold (c. 1965).Staff#333333
19671978Marshall & Jenny White<i><b>Resident Biologist</b></i><br /><br />Jenny studied Dark-eyed Juncos and produced a 1972 Berkeley Ph.D. during Marshall's tenure as Sagehen's on-site research director.<br /><br />Jenny was also Sagehen's first historian, organizing the station's collection of historic photographs, and mapping the colloquial--and ever-changing--basin place names. & Jenny White (c. 1970)Staff
1968Native trout recognizedPaul Needham was the first to recognize that the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout (LCT) of adjacent Independence Lake were the last self-reproducing native and genetically pure population of this species, the largest trout in the world. This Independence Lake population was historically connected to Sagehen Creek.<br /><br />Called "The Bible" by LCT biologists, Needham’s student, Robert Lea published the definitive graduate thesis on these fish in 1968:<br /><br />Lea, R.N., <i>Ecology of the Lahontan cutthroat trout, Salmo clarki henshawi, in Independence Lake, California</i>. 1968, Masters UCB. p. 95. Felix / UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field StationResearch
1970Stampede Reservoir BuiltStampede was the first major reservoir constructed specifically to benefit wildlife. Sagehen Creek (and Little Truckee River) water captured by Stampede dam maintains flows in the Truckee River to support spawning of the critically endangered Cui-ui in Pyramid Lake.<br /><br />Ironically, the rising waters wiped out the brood grounds of the local sage grouse population, rendering Sagehen Creek's troubled namesake bird locally and regionally extinct. sage grouse courtship display <i>(Centrocercus urophasianus)</i>.History
19702018Sagehen joins the Hydrologic Benchmark Network (HBN)In 1962, Luna B. Leopold, then Chief Hydrologist of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), proposed the establishment of a network of “hydrologic benchmarks” on the nation’s rivers.<br /><br />The main purpose of the Hydrologic Benchmark Network (HBN) is to track changes in the flow and water quality of streams and rivers draining undeveloped lands, and to serve as a reference for discerning natural from human-induced changes in river ecosystems.<br /><br />As such, it is one of the first monitoring efforts to recognize and begin tracking climate change. BerkeleyLuna Leopold in the mid-1970s along the East Fork River in Wyoming.Research
1975Living On Site Leads To Serendipitous DiscoveriesFor instance, <i>"One day in the mid-1970's, A.S. Leopold and Marshall White went out fishing. But Sagehen Creek was too high and silty from spring run-off. So, they worked their way upstream to a tiny and ephemeral tributary--Kiln Creek--and immediately began catching Rainbow Trout. Oddly, the fish were all male and about the same size</i> [Resident Biologist, Andrew Sheldon had noticed the same phenomenon in the mid-1960's].<br /></br><i>Curiosity sparked, Don Erman began a study that determined that--despite being dry most of the time--Kiln Creek was the main spawning ground for these fish."</i> The discovery changed US Forest Service management policy throughout the west, which had formerly ignored these seemingly-unimportant temporary watercourses.<br /></br>Erman, D. C. and V. M. Hawthorne, <i>"The quantitative importance of an intermittent stream in the spawning of rainbow trout"</i>. 1976. T. Am. Fish. Soc. 105(6):675-681. colorful rainbow trout.<br /><br />In background: tiny Kiln Creek flows near the Sagehen campground.Research
19781985Don & Nancy Erman<i><b>Resident Biologists / Faculty Director</b></i><br /><br />After researching and teaching at Sagehen since 1969, Don Erman became the station's Faculty Director and Resident Biologist when Starker Leopold retired in 1978.<br /><br />The Ermans focused their research attention on Sagehen's peculiar fens, which--Don and Nancy discovered after living on site--didn't match anything they knew about bogs. Erman (c. 1980).Staff#333333
19791985Sagehen's disbursed water sources favor aquatic insect diversityDon and Nancy Erman did groundbreaking work on the macroinvertebrate fauna of Sagehen's numerous springs and fens, discovering remarkable diversity, and typing many new insect species.<br /><br />Macroinvertebrate fauna is now used as a indicator for water quality at Sagehen and elsewhere.<br /><br />Erman, N., <i><a href="">Lessons from a Long-term Study of Springs and Spring Invertebrates (Sierra Nevada, California, U.S.A.) and Implications for Conservation and Management</a></i>. 2002. Felix / UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field StationA stonefly nymph from the creek bottom.Research
19811985Michael & Mary Yoder-Williams<i><b>Station Managers</b></i><br /><br />Michael Williams definitely has the best stories from his time at Sagehen. Once, a couple of villains went on a killing spree on the highway, then hid out in the Leopold Cabin. This incident spurred the university and the Forest Service to gate the facility and put in a bypass road into the upper basin.<br /><br />Another time, attempting to light the pilot on the Apartment water heater, Williams ignited a subsurface pool of propane gas that had leaked from a corroded pipe. The explosion blew him out the screen door, right in front of a van just arriving with the ENT109 students. Their first action at Sagehen was to put out the burning Station Manager!<br /><br />Fortunately, there were no injuries and not much damage (on either occasion).<br /><br />During their stay at Sagehen, Michael started his Ph.D. on Wyethia and carried out extensive environmental monitoring in the basin, including Calhoun Line small mammal trapping, and ongoing bird censusing in the Donner Ridge fire scar. Meanwhile, Mary completed a thesis on spider predation. Williams, measuring Sagehen Creek stream flow at the USGS gauge and weir (c. 1983).Staff
19851989Joe Thornton & Sandy Martin<i><b>Station Managers</b></i><br /><br />Sandra Martin was a Ph.D. graduate student when Joe Thornton was the Station Manager. They continued the Sagehen marten studies begun by William Zielinski and Wayne Spencer in 1979.<br /><br />Joe and Sandy added <a href="">several new cabins to Sagehen</a>, extending the station season. Sagehen's <a href="">original cabins</a> were just a canvas tarp over a simple frame: not useful in cold weather, wind or under a snow load. Martin and Joe Thornton trapping a marten (c. 1986).Staff
19851995Reg Barrett<i><b>Faculty Director</b></i><br /><br />Barrett and his students studied wildlife like American martens, coyotes, and Belding's ground squirrel populations at Sagehen before the first California budget crisis threatened to shut the station down.<br /><br />Faced with the loss of funding for both Sagehen and Blodgett Forest Research Station, the College of Natural Resources made a Sophie's Choice, deciding to abandon Sagehen to campus, and moving all their resources to Blodgett (even removing the Sagehen beds while ENT 109 was out in the field one day!).<br /><br />In response, the State Legislature cancelled the Sagehen funding line-item created under Leopold and Needham to partially fund the station. Barrett on Carpenter Ridge (c. 1987).Staff#333333
19891994Mark Reynolds & Virginia Boucher<i><b>Station Managers</b></i><br /><br />Mark and "Shorty" managed Sagehen until the first California budget crisis, when Sagehen was mothballed.<br /><br />Mark later joined The Nature Conservancy, and Shorty went on to manage many other UC reserves. Both scientists maintained a productive relationship with Sagehen that continued in 2018. Komenich / SF ChronicleShorty Boucher revisiting Sagehen in 2004.Staff
199252018Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS)In 1992, Station Manager Mark Reynolds rounded up funding to begin a MAPS program at Sagehen. <a href="">MAPS is a program of the Institute for Bird Populations (IBP)</a> that seasonally captures, measures and bands migratory songbirds. After leaving Sagehen in 1994, Reynolds moved to The Nature Conservancy, where he continued to partner with the Forest Service to fund <a href="">Sagehen MAPS</a>. In addition to valuable research and monitoring data, the program provides Sagehen with incredibly compelling outreach and education opportunities.<br /><br />3 transects of 10 nets each have been run in the basin over the decades, initially by Reynolds, then by Walter Clevenger until 2017. Unfortunately, Forest Service funding was lost in 2018, when Reynolds and Felix ran a minimal banding operation while he tried to pull together new funding to continue this valuable dataset. CrosbieCalliope hummingbird. When captured, these birds often go into a motionless torpor to conserve energy. Once released like this, they will quickly wake up and fly away.<br /><br />In background, Mark Reynolds bands a young junco (c. 1992).Research
1993The "Save Sagehen" MovementWhen campus decided to pull the funding from Sagehen in 1993, then-managers Shorty Boucher and Mark Reynolds sent a letter to the community on their way out the door. Local activists quickly launched an effort to reverse UC’s decision. “There was a tremendous amount of activity at multiple levels,” Mayor Eagan recalls. “Citizens, the town council, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, the Forest Service — we were all determined not to let go of a legacy developed over time, or all that wealth of information.”<br /><br />The “Save Sagehen” movement marked a milestone in the development of the Truckee area’s environmental consciousness. Many of the movement’s leaders went on to found the <a href="">Truckee River Watershed Council</a>. And so, the university kept Sagehen open--but just barely. Felix / Truckee River Watershed CouncilLearn more about Sagehen's collaborative philosophy.History#333300
19941995John Shivik<i><b>Station Manager</b></i><br /><br />Graduate student and coyote researcher under Barrett. Barrett First visit to Sagehen, winter 1992-93.Staff
19951998Student CaretakersFor three years, it seems that students were assigned to sit at the field station, but there are apparently no records from that period. There is a story that a student abandoned the station one winter without telling anyone.Staff
19962000James Kirchner<i><b>Faculty Director</b></i><br /><br />James Kirchner began his long association with the station as Faculty Director in 1996. He was removed in 2000, leaving the station with no Faculty Director, no Station Manager, nor even an onsite Resident Biologist: just a caretaker to watch the buildings with no budget to maintain them.<br /><br />A small handful of researchers and the ENT109 course continued to visit, despite the deteriorating facility and lack of support. Kirchner (c. 2003).Staff#333333
199820014Warren & Joannie Schiffini<i><b>Caretakers</b></i><br /><br />Joannie Schiffini worked for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR) when she learned about the Sagehen field station that had been shifted under the responsibility of the VCR after being abandoned by the College of Natural Resources. She suggested her husband as a good caretaker candidate until the university decided what to do with the place.<br /><br />Warren Schiffini worked for the UC Berkeley motor-pool and was nearing retirement. He shifted up to Sagehen and sat on the place for his remaining years at Berkeley, making sure the station didn't burn down, or succumb to squatters. Joannie joined him after she retired in 2000.Staff
19982001"The Coven" works behind the scenesA group of staffers and executives working in the UC Berkeley Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (VCR) came to the conclusion that Sagehen was worth saving.<br /><br />Linda Fabbri, Susie Hirano, Trish Hare (then, Cascardi) and--later--Helen Ettlinger (3rd from left) would meet for dinner to socialize and commiserate about the painful elimination of their jobs as the VCR administration changed and the UC budget retracted. The group christened themselves, "The Coven" and laughed to keep from crying.<br /><br />Working from the inside, the survivors lobbied for Sagehen through two VCR administrations, convincing VCR Joe Cerny to first fund a caretaker from 1998-2001, then to allocate funding for new managers and an operating budget for Sagehen on his way out the door.<br /><br />The last of The Coven lost their jobs at the VCR's office shortly after VCR Beth Burnside came on board in 2001. But their influence continued: the Berkeley hiring committee selected Jeff Brown, whom Ettlinger had recruited. And Burnside sent a fact-finding team to Sagehen to find out what all the fuss was about. Coven in Oakland, 2012.History
200142018Jeff Brown & Faerthen Felix<i><b>Station Managers</b></i><br /><br />Jeff Brown & Faerthen Felix arrived at Sagehen as the first Station Managers of the new millenium.<br /><br />Unfortunately, Enron, rolling blackouts, and a new California budget crisis almost quashed the effort as Brown and Felix drove through the gate for the first time, leaving Sagehen with not a dime except for Jeff's salary.<br /><br />With no choice except to either leave or reach out, the new managers cleaned up, hammered the crumbling infrastructure back together, raised (and consistently collected) user fees, expanded environmental monitoring contracts, and began working collaboratively with the community. Huge station program growth and success followed, and continues today. Brown & Faerthen Felix (c. 2002).Staff
2001112018Volunteer Winter CaretakersBeginning with their arrival in 2001, volunteers filled in for Brown and Felix when they were away from the station.<br /><br />From 2003, Sagehen offered seasonal housing to a series of winter caretakers to help move snow, and to fill in during manager absences for meetings and annual leave in the off-season.<br /><br />In 2014, Sagehen managed to hire Dan Sayler as a 60% Steward, and he continued as the volunteer winter caretaker, too.<br /><br />2001-03: Lisa Wallace, Jeff Wallace, Tim Bardsley, Andy Rost, others<br />2003-06: John (JP) Pappadopoulus & Wendy Spurling<br />2006-08: Brandon & Jamie Schwartz<br />2008-09: Sally White & Deb<br />2009-13: Sam Skrocke<br />2013-18: Dan Sayler Felix / UC Berkeley, Sagehen Creek Field StationSam Skrocke, December 2012.Staff
20011162018Sagehen joins the NADP-NTNThe National Atmospheric Deposition Program - National Trends Network (NADP-NTN) is a nationwide network of precipitation collectors monitoring atmospheric chemistry. Every week, we send our precipitation sample in for analysis (thanks to Dave Clow and Alisa Mast of the USGS).<br /><br />One interesting study tracked the radiation plume from Fukushima, showing that it reached South Lake Tahoe, but not Sagehen.<br /><br /><i><a href="">Fission Products in National Atmospheric Deposition Program Wet Deposition Samples Following the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Station Incident, March 8 - April 5, 2011.</a></i><br />U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1277, 2011, 34p.<br />Gregory A. Wetherbee, Timothy M. Debey, Mark A. Nilles, David A. Gay, and Christopher M.B. Lehmann.Faerthen Felix / UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field StationSending off the contents of the Sagehen NADP precipitation collector bucket.Research
2002102018James Kirchner<i><b>Faculty Director</b></i><br /><br />The station was without a Faculty Director until late 2002, when James Kirchner was re-hired. He retired from UC Berkeley to take on the directorship of WSL in Switzerland in 2010, but continued as Emeritus Faculty Director at Sagehen until 2015.<br /><br />As of 2018, Kirchner continues to serve as Sagehen's Senior Faculty Advisor, and invests heavily in hydrology research in the basin. James Kirchner at Sagehen in August, 2004.Staff#333333
20025VCR restores Sagehen fundingWith the threat of losing Brown and Felix looming, and despite severe financial constraints, in 2002 Vice Chancellor for Research, Beth Burnside found funding to provide a modest but stable 5-year operating budget for Sagehen, a requirement of joining the UC Natural Reserve System. She also restored funding for the Faculty Director, and the Assistant Manager position that had evaporated on arrival.<br /><br />In 2004, Burnside <a href="">supplemented campus insurance funds for collapsed and damaged Sagehen buildings with funding for badly needed renovation projects and a new cabin</a>.<br /><br />Burnside understood the unique power of field research stations: one had played an important part in her own career (The Bermuda Biological Station for Research). Berkeley VCR, Beth Burnside at Sagehen in 2004.<br /><br />History
2004818200482350+ Years of SagehenThe station hosted a <a href="">50+ year reunion in 2004</a>, bringing together many of the original Needham graduate students who founded the station.<br /><br />Bancroft Library funded an oral historian to interview many of the attendees to create a permanent record:<br /><br />Sally Hughes, 2006. <i><a href="">UC’s Sagehen Creek Field Station at Fifty</a></i>. Felix / UC Berkeley, Sagehen Creek Field Station60 + years of SagehenOutreach
2004318Sagehen becomes the 35th member of the UC Natural Reserve System<a href="">Learn more</a>.History
20046Adventure - Risk - Challenge beginsThe <a href="">ARC program</a> combines language, science and leadership instruction with intense outdoor adventure in order to raise the literacy level of high school students who will not pass the California high school exit exam without intervention.<br /><br />The program began in 2004 as a partnership between Sagehen, and program founder Katie (Fesus) Zanto; ARC became an independent non-profit in 2015. The 40-day program continues to run at Sagehen every summer, and has expanded to Yosemite National Park. In previous years, the program also ran at two other UCNRS reserves: Sedgwick and Blue Oak Ranch.<br /><br />ARC graduates are often first-generation immigrants, and virtually all finish high school. Most continue on to college, typically the first in their families to do so. ARC graduates have gone on to finish their college educations at prestigious schools like UC Berkeley, Cornell and Dartmouth. Not bad for kids who weren't going to make it out of high school!<br /><br />ARC provides research opportunities, serving as the subject of <a href="">4 graduate theses as of 2017</a>. In 2011, the program won the <a href="">Organization of Biological Field Stations Human Diversity Award</a>. Education
200452018Other Employees and ContractorsPeriodically, the station relies on contractors or temporary employees for plumbing, electrical, concrete, general contracting, catering, forestry, and other services.<br /><br />Sagehen's education programs (ARC, SOEP) provide seasonal and full-time jobs for instructors, coordinators and support staff. Felix / UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field StationNorth Lake Plumbing to the rescueStaff
20051125Forest Service creates the Sagehen Experimental Forest...thereby shifting management authority to the research side of the Forest Service (PSW) where the priority is science rather than multiple-use. This action also expanded the station footprint from the original permit area around the buildings, to the entire watershed above Hwy-89. ceremony. June 24, 2006History
20052018The Sagehen Forest ProjectBeginning as a study to determine the effectiveness of the SPLATs strategy adopted by the Forest Service to interrupt fire behavior, the <a href="">Sagehen Forest Project</a> grew into a community collaboration to reset ecological function. In the process--and unexpectedly--loggers, environmentalists, and everyone else gets what they want: a healthy forest providing more wood, more fuel reduction, and more habitat restoration than a traditional logging prescription.<br /><br />From the Sagehen basin, the project is scaling up as a model for larger projects, and Sagehen is working with an artist-led initiative (<a href="">Living Forests</a>) to create a small-wood timber industry needed to effect the change. Felix / UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field StationHow do you save a forest?Research
200696North Fork of the American River, Research & Conservation AgreementA consortium of land owners & managers including: the North Fork Association, Chickering Parnership, Tahoe National Forest, US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station & Regents of the University of California signed an agreement addressing future cooperative management of the approximately 19,670 acres of public & private lands in the headwaters of the North Fork of the American River.<br /><br />In combination with Sagehen and the Central Sierra Snow Lab, this suite of properties offer a unique trans-Sierra transect of long-term environmental monitoring and wild lands for research. of the North ForkResearch
20072017Geologic Surface MapUC Santa Barbara professor Art Sylvester and his students mapped the surface geology of Sagehen and Independence basins in summer 2007. Over the next 10 years, Sylvester and his cohort created <a href="">a map and document that was published by the California Geological Survey in 2017</a>.<br /><br />Assisting with the mapping, Gary Raines, USGS Emeritus, discovered ancient lake terraces in the forest that explain the clay layers that hold ground water near the surface, creating Sagehen's extensive and unique fen network. Additional research into rock dating by Jordan Hastings and the State of Nevada established the age of the basin at over 5-million years, astonishing for a mountain basin and suggesting that the Sagehen clay layers contain a rare climate record predating the ice ages.Research
2008USGS GSFLOW Hydrology ModelDoug Boyle, Nevada State Climatologist and professor at University of Nevada, began investing in hydrology infrastructure and research at Sagehen in 2001; in 2018, Adrian Harpold of UNR continues and expands on this investment.<br /><br />According to Boyle, the USGS GSFLOW software is “probably the most important hydrologic product to ever come out of Sagehen. The model is very popular internationally and Sagehen was the only example used throughout the document - unfortunately most of those guys have never been to Sagehen.” The GSFLOW model is used by water masters all over the US who manage water storage and use for their communities.<br /><br />GS-FLOW was not an anomaly: the mid-2000's marked the beginning of an era of widespread modeling where data users aggregate large datasets to build new products, seldom even aware of the source (or cost) of that data.<br /><br />
<a href="">USGS GSFLOW software</a><br />
Markstrom, S.L., Niswonger, R.G., Regan, R.S., Prudic, D.E., and Barlow, P.M., 2008<br /><i>GSFLOW-Coupled Ground-water and Surface-water FLOW model based on the integration of the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System (PRMS) and the Modular Ground-Water Flow Model (MODFLOW-2005):</i><br />
U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 6-D1, 240 p.
200834Katie Moriarty sees a ghost<i>"Dear Agency Friends and Research Colleagues,<br /><br />It is with a mixture of joy, and some trepidation, that I share the attached photograph and solicit your help in managing the circumstances it may precipitate.<br /><br />The previous evidence of this species in California, by method other than sightings, dates back to the 1930s. The photograph was taken on the Tahoe National Forest during a marten research project managed by a graduate student named Katie Moriarty. It has been reviewed by Jeff Copeland, of the Rocky Mountain Research Station (a wolverine expert) who said that he 'can't convert it into anything else' and that 'it looks like the real deal'.<br /><br />It was photographed at one of a large arrays of cameras that are continuing to operate in the vicinity thru the end of March, at least. New effort will be dedicated to the collection of genetic information, to try to confirm the population of origin, and to expanding camera surveys.<br /><br />Your thoughts and suggestions for next steps are welcome.<br /><br />Bill Zielinski"</i><br /><br /><a href="">More info</a> | Photos: <a href="">Marten re-survey</a> | <a href="">Wolverine search</a> MoriartyThe photo that started it all.<br /><br />In background: scat-sniffing dogs arrive to search for wolverine sign.Research
2011Sagehen Art Program beginsThe <a href="">Nevada Museum of Art - Center for Art + Environment</a> commissions Helen and Newton Harrison, the world's preeminent environmental artists, to do a project at Sagehen related to climate change and the Sierra Nevadas. Financially, this is one of the largest projects in Sagehen's history.<br /><br />The Harrison project--<a href="">"Sagehen: A Proving Ground"</a>--opens a new era of combining art with science at Sagehen in search of basic discovery and community connection.<br /><br />Working with the Nevada Museum of Art, the Organization of Biological Field Stations, the National Association of Marine Labs, and brain researchers like Berkeley's Art Shimamura, Sagehen begins encouraging other field stations and marine labs to open their doors to artists, as well. Felix / UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field Station<i>Invisible Barn</i>, a 2015 Sagehen artwork by stpmj. In background: Sonja Hinrichsen's 2017 community-created snowshoe art at Sagehen.Outreach
20112018Collections Program revs upSagehen Collections Manager Erica Krimmel used the Sagehen teaching collections of plants and animals for her Master's project, and pushed us to begin digitizing the collections to make them available as international research assets through GBIF and Symbiota portals like NANSH, CCH2, SCAN-bugs, and CSVColl. The project is ongoing, but publications are already following.<br /><br />Along the way, the collections grew into our major volunteer program, providing California Naturalist capstone opportunities and recruiting the public to collect observations of life in both the Sagehen basin and the North Fork of the American River research properties using the iNaturalist platform and our annual BioBlitz.Faerthen Felix / UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field StationKaitlin Backlund documents a Castilleja. Background: Erica Krimmel presses a new plant for the herbarium.Outreach
20142018Dan Sayler<i><b>Steward / Carpenter</b></i><br /><br />Dan Sayler started out as a volunteer winter caretaker. He was so valuable that we found 60% funding to hire him as the Station's first professional carpenter since Gunnar Soder in the 1950's.<br /><br />Since then, Sayler has been maintaining the basin's internet and data connectivity, collecting critical long-term environmental monitoring data, and gradually updating the poorly modified and aging facilities and infrastructure. Major projects completed by 2018 include:<ul><li>Turning a 40' container in the Leopold Camp into two bunkhouse spaces, including decks and solar electricity</li><li>Removing and rebuilding the crushed Ano Nuevo work trailer</li><li>Gutting, replacing the floor and foundation, then rebuilding the Dining Room and Breezeway</li><li>Replacing and insulating the complicated roof over the Dining Room/Office/Library complex</li><li>Renovating the Apartment and repairing the Garages structure and overhead doors</li><li>Renovating the Johnson Cabin</li><li>Adding metal roofs to the North and South Cabins</li></ul><br />Dan also continues as Sagehen's volunteer winter caretaker. Felix / UC Berkeley Sagehen Creek Field StationDan Sayler, December 2015.Staff
20142017Rauri Bowie<i><b>Faculty Director</b></i><br /><br />Rauri Bowie served a short term during a difficult period of severe campus financial cuts where Sagehen once again lost its entire operating budget, and saw campus begin to nibble away at salaries, too.<br /><br />Grant funding related to the 15-year Sagehen Forest Project filled the gap temporarily, but a new solution is needed to get Sagehen off the financial roller-coaster and ensure the station's future beyond the next 2-3 years when the project (and its grant funding) ends, and Brown and Felix retire. BowieStaff#333333
20172018Robert Rhew<i><b>Faculty Director</b></i><br /><br />Rob Rhew brought new energy and research drive to Sagehen beginning in 2017. RhewStaff#333333
20182085Looking forward to the next 67 years!<div align="center">As of 2018,</div><br /><ul><li>Sagehen researchers have produced more than 110 Masters and Ph.D. theses, and almost a thousand instances of peer-reviewed articles, conference papers, and technical reports published in top-tier journals, including <i>Nature</i> and <i>Science</i>.</li><li>Products of Sagehen research, education and art have appeared in hundreds of popular press articles and books, including prestigious media outlets like <i>National Geographic, Nature Communications, Biosphere, The New Yorker, Psychology Today, Wired, New Scientist, Oxford University Press, McGraw-Hill,</i> and many others.</li><li>Sagehen research is being used to inform resource management policy both locally--on the Tahoe National Forest--and at broader scales in California, the western US, and beyond.</li><li>Thousands of students at all levels have passed through our gates and programs, many going on to become part of less than 3% of US workers who are professional scientists and engineers.</li></ul>Outreach