PO Box 1611, Chico, ca. 95927

Web Site: http://buttecreekwatershed.org



The Butte Creek Watershed Owner's Manual

What is a Best Management Practice?

Why should I care?


            Best Management Practice is a term used by many government agencies and resource professionals to describe the best way of restoring, maintaining, or using the soil, water, plants and animals on your property.
            Our soil and the water that flows over and through it are our most basic assets. The conditions of other natural resources in a watershed, such as vegetation and animal life, are in many ways indicative of the underlying health of watershed soil and water. The inter-dependence of the many factors that make up natural resource systems requires comprehensive planning and management. This achieves maximum long-term benefits from natural resources, without diminishing their availability. Planning and managing such a complex system cannot be done by single, individual effort. It is best accomplished through the cumulative effects of cooperative community awareness and involvement.

This Owner's Manual was produced with a generous grant to the Butte Creek Watershed Conservancy from the Great Valley Center through its LEGACI grant program. Each year, the Center awards well over one-half million dollars in monetary grants to non-profit groups, community organizations, and local governments that are working to improve the well being of the Great Central Valley through initiatives in the areas of Land Use, Economic development, Growth, Agriculture, Conservation and Investment, (LEGACI).

The limitations of budget and time required the scope of this Best Management Practices Manual to be limited to land and homeowners with 40 acres or less. The subjects covered in this Manual will be those encountered by our stakeholders controlling parcels of 40 acres or less. This Manual is not intended to cover commercial development or farming. Those subjects will be covered in a Best Management Practice Manual for future publication.

The Owner's Manual is designed to accomplish the goal of maintaining a sustainable balance between the natural and human resources within the watershed. With increasing population and diversity of land use in the watershed, a holistic approach to managing resources helps to decrease negative impacts and to increase positive impacts. Economic vitality is necessary to enable the community to address and solve resource problems such as non-point source pollution, and maintaining a healthy natural resource base is necessary for sustaining economic vitality.

Voluntary implementation of best management practices not only helps deal with identified problems but prevents others from occurring. The Owner's Manual is intended to serve as a preventive maintenance effort, rather than the usual after the fact clean up or mitigation program. Solutions to problems identified by citizens, landowners, and agencies are more easily remedied when the problems are treated as vested interests to be addressed, instead of positions to be defended. This proposal provides the basis for a voluntary landowner effort to jointly address the concerns expressed by the local community, while protecting and preserving the natural and cultural resources in an economically reasonable manner. Preventive care is the least burdensome and least expensive way to keep the watershed healthy.



Preface & Acknowledgements

The Butte Creek Watershed

Owner's Manual

A Best Management Practice Manual


The Butte Creek Watershed Owner's Manual is part of the Butte Creek Watershed Conservancy's implementation of its Watershed Management Strategy. On November 14, 2000 the BCWC Board of Directors voted to accept the Watershed Management Strategy. This Watershed Management Strategy is designed to accomplish the goal of maintaining a sustainable river ecosystem for the Butte Creek watershed. With increasing population and diversifying land use in the watershed, coordinated management becomes beneficial. This decreases negative impacts and increases positive impacts. Economic vitality is necessary to enable the community to address and solve resource problems. This maintains a healthy natural resource base, which is necessary for sustaining that economic vitality. Establishment of a goal-oriented management strategy can prevent problems before they occur, and will result in less expensive and more efficient use of community energy and resources. This important document can be viewed on the Conservancy's web site at: http://buttecreekwatershed.org.


Objective #2: in Chapter 1, Education and Public Outreach states: Develop a strong education and public outreach program to encourage conservation and wise use of natural resources and preservation of the economic and cultural heritage of the watershed.

Implementation 2.A states: Encourage development of a manual of Best Management Practices applicable to the continued multiple land uses found in the Butte Creek watershed and make this manual available to landowners and resource managers in the watershed.

We thank the following people and agencies for their valuable assistance in the production of the Butte Creek Watershed Owners Manual.


Kenneth N. Derucher, Ph.D.

Dean and Professor

California State University, Chico

John Icanberry

US Fish and Wildlife Service


Paul Ward


California Dept. Fish and Game

Glenn Nader

Farm Advisor

Livestock & Natural Resources

Sutter/Yuba/Butte Counties

Mike Madden

Office of Emergency Services

Great Valley Center

Modesto, CA

Laura Best

Assistant Editor

Sharan Quigley

Assistant Editor


The Best Management Practices Committee:

Rick Ponciano

Rick Hall

Sharan Quigley

Morris Boeger

Les Heringer

Chuck Kutz

Hank Evers

Jack Bean

Robb Cheal

Ed Chombeau

Ken Keller



About the Butte Creek Watershed Conservancy

The Conservancy received non-profit 501(c)3 status in November 1996. The Conservancy was created as a landowner-driven group, and a 12-member Board of Directors directs its policies. Current Board members are community leaders in agriculture, timber, cattle grazing, local industry, and conservation. The Butte Creek Watershed Conservancy was formed to encourage the preservation and proper management of the Butte Creek Watershed through watershed-wide cooperation between landowners, water users, recreational users, conservation groups, and local, state, and federal agencies. The mission statement of the Conservancy reflects that dedication: "The Butte Creek Watershed Conservancy was established to protect, restore, and enhance the cultural, economic, and ecological heritage of the Butte Creek Watershed through cooperative landowner action."

To join the Conservancy call (530) 893-5399 or Email us at: creek@inreach.com

Write to:

Butte Creek Watershed Conservancy

P.O. Box 1611

Chico, CA




Location and Overview of the Area


Butte Creek originates on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada at an elevation of approximately 7,000 feet. Run-off originating from snow and rainfall feed six named and two unnamed tributaries that flow into the Jonesville Basin in Lassen National Forest in an area dominated by species of pine, cedar, and fir. Riffle substrate consists primarily of cobbles and gravel. In this reach, the stream flows all year, but peak flows generally occur between October and May. Early peak flows result from rainfall, and late season peak flows result from snowmelt. Stream temperatures remain cool all year and several species of trout are the dominant species of fish (Leach and Van Woert, 1968).

Butte Creek cascades from the Butte Meadows area approximately 25 miles through a steep canyon to the point where it enters the valley floor near Chico.

Numerous small tributaries and springs enter the creek in the canyon area. Deep, shaded pools surrounded by species of pine and fir form the landscape in the section of the canyon above Centerville, whereas the area below has a shallower gradient and a riparian canopy of alder, oak, sycamore and willow. Several tributaries add flow to Butte Creek in the canyon. Flows from the West Branch of the Feather River, diverted by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for power generation, enter Butte Creek via the Toadtown/Hendricks Canal at the DeSabla Powerhouse. PG&E and its predecessor (Butte County Electric Power and Lighting Company) have utilized two dams to divert water from Butte Creek for power generation since the turn of the century. Another diversion, the Forks of the Butte Hydroelectric Project, was completed in 1991 by the Energy Growth Partnership I. The lowermost structure, the Centerville Diversion Dam, located immediately below the DeSabla Powerhouse, is generally considered to be the upper limit of anadromous fish migration. Spring-run chinook salmon and steelhead trout utilize the canyon reach below the Quartz Bowl for holding and spawning.



Butte Creek enters the Sacramento Valley southeast of Chico and meanders in a southwesterly direction to the initial point of entry into the Sacramento River at Butte Slough. A second point of entry into the Sacramento River is through the Sutter Bypass and Sacramento Slough.

Oaks, cottonwoods, and willows are common along the banks of the upper section of this reach (CDFG, 1974). The creek is bordered by levees in various areas of the valley reach. Four dams and numerous diversions in the valley section divert water from the creek for agricultural and wildlife purposes (McGill, 1987).

Fall-run chinook salmon spawn predominantly in this reach between the Highway 99 crossing and the Western Canal crossing in October and November. Adult spring-run chinook salmon pass through this reach from March to June (CDFG, 1993). Juvenile salmon from both races rear here in late winter through late spring en route to the Pacific Ocean.

Butte Creek water passes through the Butte Basin, Butte Sink, Butte Slough, and the Sutter Bypass before joining the Sacramento River. Creek water flows through twin channels, the East and West borrow pits, all year and Butte Slough Outfall during flood flows in the fall, winter, and spring. The borrow pits are regular, excavated channels on either side of the Sutter Bypass. The creek gains flow here through the return of irrigation water.  Gates on Willow Slough and the East-West borrow pit diversion structure are used to control water levels in the East borrow pit (Slebodnick, 1976). Dams impound and divert water for wildlife and agricultural uses. Willows are the dominant riparian plant species. Butte Creek and Sacramento River salmon and steelhead rear in these waters throughout the year. The watershed's richly diverse and considerable natural resources provide ideal habitat for many aquatic and terrestrial species. The natural resources are also ideal for timber harvest, agriculture, and myriad recreational opportunities. Stewardship practices that consider all uses dependent on the watershed's natural resources will insure their continued preservation.

From the Butte Creek Watershed’s

Existing Conditions Report

















Water Facts


Water Facts

The most common substance found on earth is water. Water is the only substance found naturally in three forms: solid, liquid, and gas.

The amount of water is constant and recycled throughout time. It is possible to drink water that was part of the dinosaur era.

About 3% of the Earth's water is fresh, and about three-fourth of that is in the Arctic icecaps and glaciers.

Water expands by 9 percent when it freezes. Frozen water (ice) is lighter than water, which is why ice floats in water.

One gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds; one cubic foot contains 7.84 gallons of water.

One cubic foot per second (cfs) is about 450 gallons per minute.

One acre-foot of water is about 325,900 gallons, enough to fill a football field to a depth of 1 foot or to supply the needs of a family of five for a year.

Per capita water use varies around the state. Central Valley residents use up to 300 gallons per person per day, while some Central Coast residents use as little as 50 gallons per day.

A typical garden hose can deliver 50 gallons of water in just 5 minutes.

A dripping faucet can waste up to 2,000 gallons/7,600 liters of water a year. A leaky toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons/260 liters water a day.

A 10-minute shower can take 25 - 50 gallons of water. Low flow showerheads can cut the rate in half without reducing pressure.

A 1000 sq. ft. lawn requires 10,000 gallons of water per summer to maintain a "green" look.

A 40 x 100' lawn produces 1,200 lbs. of clippings per year.

Landscaping accounts for about half the water Californians use at home. Showers account for another 18%, while toilets use about 20%.

It costs an average of $700 per acre per year to maintain a lawn; whereas a wildflower meadow costs $30/acre.

One quart of oil can contaminate 250,000 gallons of water.

It takes 1,500 gallons to process a barrel of beer


California farmers use slightly less water than they did 30 years ago... yet produce 67 percent more crops!

Irrigated agricultural accounts for 28% of total water used in California. Agriculture uses about 80% of California's accessible developed water supply, including groundwater.

More than half of the state's recycled water is used for agricultural irrigation. About 20% is used for ground water recharge and 16% is used for landscape irrigation.

About 4,000 gallons of water are needed to grow one bushel of corn, 11,000 gallons to grow one bushel of wheat, and about 135,000 gallons to grow one ton of alfalfa.

Of all the rain and snow that falls on California each year, about two-thirds evaporates or is used by native plants and trees. Of the remaining runoff, 46 percent goes straight back to the environment through our rivers and streams!

An acre of corn contributes more to humidity than a lake of the same size.

More than 800,000 new water wells are drilled each year for domestic, commercial and industrial use.

There are two major projects, the State Water Project (SWP) and the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) that carry water from northern California to central and southern California users.

About 66,000 acre-feet of water were voluntarily provided by State Water Project and Central Valley Project contractors to assist migrating salmon this year.

California will be chronically short of water by 2010, unless steps are taken now to improve our water supply system.

A water storage project typically takes 10 to 20 years to design and build.

It costs over $3.5 billion to operate water systems throughout the United States each year.

The Amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1986 increased the number of contaminants to be regulated from 26 to 83 and expanded EPA’s enforcement authority.

Four hundred gallons of water are recycled through our kidneys each day.

A reduction of 4-5% in body water will result in a decline of 20-30% in work performance.


Managing Your Household Septic System


Onsite/septic system owners need information on how septic systems work, how to maintain them, and precautions to take to decrease the potential for the septic system to contaminate groundwater or surface water. Operation and maintenance of the system are the owner's responsibility.

Managing a household septic system requires that you control the volume and quality of wastewater and maintain the septic tank and drainfield. A properly maintained system should work correctly for many years.


Volume of Wastewater

Sending wastewater to the tank too fast can cause solid materials to pass into the drainfield without undergoing the gradual anaerobic digestion that occurs in the septic tank.

Make sure your septic system is large enough to meet your needs.

No more than two loads of laundry (one in the morning and one in the evening) should be done a day.

Avoid marathon showers and other excessive uses that may send big surges of wastewater into the system.

Consider using water-saving devices available for toilets and showerheads.

Do not connect sump pump outlets or roof gutters to the system.


Quality of Wastewater

The quality of your wastewater, not just its quantity, is also important in ensuring that your septic system functions properly.

Fats and grease should never be poured down the drain.

Limit your use of garbage disposals or don't use them at all.

Only household cleansers, disinfectants, and bleaches should be allowed into the septic tank and only in moderation. Anything else does not belong in a septic system.


Other materials that cannot be decomposed in a septic system include coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers, cat box litter, cigarette butts, sanitary napkins, tampons, plastics, facial tissue, and paper towels.

Drains should be equipped with strainers or other filtration devices to reduce the amount of food particles, hair, and lint entering the system.


Maintaining the Septic Tank

Slow accumulations of sludge and scum are normal. You should remove these materials through periodic pumping and appropriate disposal.

Annual or biannual inspection of the septic tank is advisable to determine the thickness of the sludge and scum layers.

Additives that are marketed as septic tank cleaners, rejuvenators, or primers are not needed. Most of these additives won't harm your system, but they don't help them either.


Maintaining the Drain Field

Keep vehicular traffic off of the drain field because they can compact the soil and possibly break drain lines.

Try to position trees so that their roots will not enter the drain lines and plug them.

Keep a healthy grass cover over the system to prevent exposure of the soil and possible erosion around the drain lines.

Be sure that any runoff from the roof, driveway, and other impermeable surfaces is directed away from the drain field.



Maintaining Your Household Septic System



Maintaining Your Septic System

Out of sight and out of mind - does this describe your relationship with your septic system? If you are like most homeowners, you probably never give much thought to what happens to what goes down your drain. But if you rely on a septic system to treat and dispose of your household wastewater, what you don't know can hurt you. Proper operation and maintenance of your septic system can have a significant impact on how well it works and how long it lasts, and in most communities, septic system maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowner.


Why Maintain Your System?

There are three main reasons why septic system maintenance is so important. The first reason is money. Failing septic systems are expensive to repair or replace, and poor maintenance is a common cause of early system failures. The minimal amount of preventative maintenance that septic systems require costs very little in comparison. For example, it typically costs from $3,000 to $10,000 to replace a failing septic system with a new one, compared to approximately $50 to $150 to have a septic system inspected, and $150 to $250 to have it pumped.



The second and most important reason to maintain your system is to protect the health of your family, your community, and the environment. When septic systems fail, inadequately treated household wastewater is released into the environment. Any contact with untreated human waste can pose significant health risks, and untreated wastewater from failing septic systems can contaminate nearby wells, groundwater, and drinking water sources.


Chemicals improperly released through a septic system also can pollute local water sources and can contribute to system failures. For this reason it is important for homeowners to educate themselves about what should and should not be disposed of through a septic system.


Finally, the third reason to maintain your septic system is to protect the economic health of your community. Failed septic systems can cause property values to decline. Sometimes building permits cannot be issued or real estate sales can be delayed for these properties until systems are repaired or replaced. Also, failed septic systems can contribute to the pollution of local rivers, lakes, and shorelines that your community uses for commercial or recreational



Typical Septic System Layout

Inspecting Your Household Septic System


Inspecting Your Septic System
Annual inspections of your septic system are recommended to ensure that it is working properly and to determine when the septic tank should be pumped. By inspecting and pumping your system regularly, you can prevent the high cost of septic system failure. If the sludge depth is equal to one third or more of the liquid depth, the tank should be pumped.

A thorough septic system inspection will include the following steps:


1. Locating the system Even a professional may have trouble locating your system if the access to your tank is buried. One way to start looking is to go in your basement and determine the direction the sewer pipe goes out through the wall. Then start probing the soil with a thin metal rod 10 to 15 feet from the foundation. Once your system is found, be sure to keep a map of it on hand to save time on future service visits.


2. Uncovering the manhole and inspection ports This may entail some digging in your yard. If they are buried, try to make inspections. Install risers (elevated access covers) if necessary.


3. Flushing the toilets This is done to determine if the plumbing going to the system is working correctly.



4. Measuring the scum and sludge layers There are two frequently used methods for measuring the sludge and scum layers inside your tank. The contractor may use a hollow clear plastic tube that is pushed through the different layers to the bottom of the tank. When brought back up, the tube retains a sample showing a cross section of the inside of the tank. The layers can also be measured using long wooden sticks or poles. As a general guideline, if the scum layer is within three inches of the bottom of the inlet baffle, the tank should be pumped. If the sludge depth is equal to one third or more of the liquid depth, the tank should be pumped.


5. Checking the tank and the drain field The contractor will check the condition of the baffles or tees, the walls of the tank for cracks, and the drain field for any signs of failure. If your system includes a distribution box, drop box, or pump, the contractor will check these too. Properly sited, designed, constructed, and maintained septic systems can provide an efficient and economical wastewater treatment alternative to public sewer systems. While septic systems are designed and installed by licensed professionals to meet the needs of individual sites, homeowners are responsible for the system's operation and maintenance.


Measuring Sludge Accumulation

Sludge depth can be measured by securing a towel around the bottom 3 feet of an 8-foot piece of lumber. Lower the pole into the tank until it touches bottom and hold it for several minutes.



BE CAREFUL! Never lean into or enter a septic tank. You could be poisoned or asphyxiated. Never use matches or flames when inspecting a septic tank. The gases generated in a septic tank are explosive and deadly.



Slowly raise the pole and observe the towel. The discolored portion indicates the depth of the sludge layer. Have the tank cleaned if it is more than 24 inches deep. A septic plumbing contractor should be hired to pump out and inspect the tank. If your tank has been recently installed, check the sludge and scum levels every year to determine how rapidly solids are accumulating in the tank.



Measuring Scum Accumulation

The scum layer can be measured by using a stick to which a weighted flap has been attached with a hinge. When the flap-end of the stick is forced through the scum layer, the weighted flap will fall into the horizontal position. Raise the stick until resistance is felt from contact with the bottom of the scum layer. Place a mark on the stick where it meets the top of the inspection port. Then position the flap so that it is under the bottom of the sub-merged outlet.


Again, mark the stick where it meets the top of the tank. Remove  the stick and note the distance between the two marks. Have the tank cleaned if the distance is 3 inches or less.


If you choose to do these, remember that the liquid and solid contents of the septic system are capable of causing infectious diseases.


After working on any part of the septic system, always wash hands thoroughly before eating, drinking, or smoking. Change clothes before coming into contact with food or other people. 


 Procedures for measuring the accumulation of sludge

and scum layers in a septic tank.


Water Wells - Water Quality Testing


If you own a well, you have sole responsibility for checking to see if your water is contaminated. Check your well for the conditions below to determine whether your drinking water has a high or low potential of becoming polluted.

Well is upslope from all sources of contamination, including surface runoff and drainage that might reach the wellhead from areas used by livestock.

Well is greater than 100 feet from potential sources of contamination.

Casing extends 12 inches or more above normal ground level.

Antibackflow devices are on all faucets with hose connections.

Wells shall be located a safe distance from both overhead and underground utility lines.


Laboratory testing

Laboratory testing is the only sure means to detect contaminants in your water. The following tests; nitrates, coliform bacteria, pH, and total dissolved solids (TDS), if taken yearly, will give you a general idea about the quality of your water. If these test results meet federal and state standards, your water is probably of good quality.

Call several different labs to find out their prices and sampling procedures. The county extension office has a list of state-certified labs and the contaminants they can analyze for. Some labs will send you empty bottles with complete sampling instructions. Accurate test results depend on how well you follow the directions.

After the lab has completed the tests, they will send you a copy of the results. Your local health department can probably help you interpret the results.



Microorganisms in your drinking water can make you sick. Unfortunately, testing for all specific types of harmful microorganisms is expensive and essentially impossible. However, coliform bacteria are good indicators of the microbiological quality of drinking water.


Coliform bacteria

Coliform bacteria live in the soil, decaying plant material, and the intestines of humans and animals. Microorganisms in your water can cause various gastrointestinal illnesses such as dysentery and cholera. The test for coliform bacteria is an indicator of the microbiological quality of water. A positive coliform test means that your water may be contaminated with other harmful microorganisms.

A laboratory test for coliform bacteria is simple and inexpensive. Call several certified labs for their costs and sampling procedures. Be certain to follow the lab instructions carefully so you do not accidentally contaminate the sample.

If lab results show microorganisms in your water, check the integrity of the well casing and grout seal around the borehole. Water and contaminants can seep into the well from the surface if the casing or grout seal is cracked.



You can decontaminate your well several ways. For example, you can shock-chlorinate the system by putting large amounts of household chlorine bleach directly in the well and allowing it to sit undisturbed for up to 24 hours.

To ensure purity, test the water one or two weeks after shock-chlorinating. If your well is still contaminated, you must take other measures. You may have to install a water-purifying unit at the well to treat all the water entering your home. These units include continuous feed pumps, ultraviolet lamps, and ozonation devices.


Emergency Disinfection

In an emergency, you might need to treat the water immediately. Boiling water for several minutes is an ideal treatment for emergency disinfection. Bleach is another good disinfectant. Put eight disinfectant drops of chlorine bleach in a gallon of water; mix thoroughly and let it sit for at least one-half hour before drinking. You also can use tincture of iodine as an immediate disinfectant. Put 20 drops of iodine in a gallon of water, mix, and allow to sit for 30 minutes.

Water Wells - Pollution Causes


California Water Code Section 231 requires the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to develop well standards to protect California's ground water quality.

The standards apply to all water well drillers in California and the local agencies that enforce them.



By law, DWR is responsible for issuing standards for constructing, altering, maintaining, and destroying wells to prevent pollution.

DWR's well standards provide minimum standards for the construction, alteration, maintenance, or destruction of wells to prevent pollution of ground water.



Items addressed by DWR well standards include:

• Setback of wells from pollution sources

• Casing materials

• Annular seal dimensions and materials

• Surface features—pads, locks, covers, backflow preventers, vaults

• Well development

• Disinfection

• Repair

• Destruction



Local governments, counties, cities, and some water districts are responsible for enforcing standards that are either equal to or more stringent than DWR's well standards. These agencies usually require permits for well construction.

They also conduct inspections to make sure the wells are constructed properly.

To determine who enforces well standards in your community, contact your local county environmental health department.



In 1994, the California Building Standards Commission approved guidelines for installing "graywater" systems in homes throughout the state. The move was a significant step in making reuse of some residential wastewater a reality.

"Graywater" refers to water already used in the washing machine, bathtub or shower. Subsurface plumbing systems allowed under the standards allow homeowners to reuse such water for irrigating trees, landscaping, and other ground cover. The standards include a number of provisions aimed at educating homeowners and ensuring safe use of graywater.

Systems generally consist of a three-way diverter valve, a treatment assembly such as a sand filter, a holding tank, a bilge pump, and an irrigation or leaching system. The holding tank cools the water and temporarily holds it back from the drain hose. Systems can either be custom designed and built, or purchased as a package. Techniques include recessed or raised planter soilboxes, water injection without erosion, gravity or pressure leach chamber, and irrigated greenhouses. Some system components can retrofit existing irrigation systems.



Because conventional wastewater plumbing lines combine black and graywater, separating the two generally involves a parallel wastewater system. Space must be available for larger components such as a holding tank or some filters, which can be located in a basement, shed, or possibly outside.



Beside the initial cost of separating black and greywater plumbing lines, and sand filter costs about $1000, plus one or more hours of labor. Prices are site-specific and vary widely depending on flow rate, water quality, temperature, and the local building authorities. In new construction, the septic wastewater treatment system can often be downsized as a result of reducing its expected load, and separation of the plumbing lines will be simpler and less costly than in a retrofit installation.



Contaminants such as paint, bleach, and dye must be diverted to a separate treatment process such as a septic tank. Periodic maintenance of the graywater treatment system is required.



Local regulations, sanitary engineers, inspectors, and boards of health might not be familiar with or permit these methods. Graywater separation might also not be justification for downsizing the septic system.



There are several local distributors of tank and filtration systems; pumps are widely available. Other system components are essentially conventional construction materials.







Rain Water Harvesting  System Components




Whether the system you are planning is large or small, all rainwater harvesting systems comprise six basic components:

1.      Catchment Area/Roof, the surface upon which the rain falls,

2.      Gutters and Downspouts, the transport channels from catchment surface to storage;

3.      Leaf Screens and Roofwashers, the systems that remove contaminants and debris;

4.      Cisterns or Storage Tanks, where collected rainwater is stored;

5.      Conveying, the delivery system for the treated rainwater, either by gravity or pump; and,

6.      Water Treatment, filters and equipment, and additives to settle, filter, and disinfect.




The catchment area is the surface on which the rain that will be collected falls. Channeled gullies along driveways or swales in yards can also serve as catchment areas, collecting and then directing the rain to a French drain or bermed detention area. Rainwater harvested from catchment surfaces along the ground, because of the increased risk of contamination, should only be used for lawn watering. For in-home use, the roofs of buildings are the primary catchment areas, which, in rural settings, can include outbuildings such as barns and sheds. A "rainbarn" is a term describing an open-sided shed designed with a large roof area for catchment, with the cisterns placed inside along with other farm implements.




Rain Water Harvesting  System Components



These are the components that catch the rain from the roof catchment surface and transport it to the cistern. Standard shapes and sizes are easily obtained and maintained, although custom-fabricated profiles are also available to maximize the total amount of harvested rainfall. Gutters and downspouts must be properly sized, sloped, and installed in order to maximize the quantity of harvested rain.


Gutter Filter

Downspout Filter



Roof washing, or the collection and disposal of the first flush of water from a roof, is of particular concern if the collected rainwater is to be used for human consumption, since the first flush picks up most of the dirt, debris, and contaminants, such as bird droppings, that have collected on the roof and in the gutters during dry periods.




Other than the roof, which is an assumed cost in most building projects, the storage tank represents the largest investment in a rainwater harvesting system. To maximize the efficiency of your system, your building plan should reflect decisions about optimal placement, capacity, and material selection for the cistern.





Round Cistern


Rain Water Harvesting  System Components



Remember, water only flows downhill unless you pump it. The old adage that gravity flow works only if the tank is higher than the kitchen sink accurately portrays the physics at work. The water pressure for a gravity system depends on the difference in elevation between the storage tank and the faucet.


Water gains one pound per square inch of pressure for every 2.31 feet of rise or lift.

Many plumbing fixtures and appliances require 20 psi for proper design consideration.




Before making a decision about what type of water treatment method to use, have your water tested by an approved laboratory and determine whether your water will be used for potable or non-potable uses.

Dirt, rust, scale, silt and other suspended particles, bird and rodent feces, airborne bacteria and cysts will inadvertently find their way into the cistern or storage tank even when design features such as roof washers, screens, and tight-fitting lids are properly installed. Water can be unsatisfactory without being unsafe; therefore, filtration and some form of disinfection are the minimum recommended treatment if the water is to be used for human consumption (drinking, brushing teeth, or cooking). The types of treatment units most commonly used by rainwater systems are filters that remove sediment, in concert with either an ultraviolet light or chemical disinfection.



Filtration can be as simple as using cartridge filters, or those for swimming pools and hot tubs. In all cases, proper filter operation and maintenance in accordance with the instruction manual for that specific filter must be followed to ensure safety. Once screens and roofwashers remove large debris, other filters are available which help improve rainwater quality. Keep in mind that most filters on the market are designed to treat municipal water or well water.


Rain Water Filter




 Composting Toilets


Composting Toilets

Composting toilets can close the nutrient cycle, turning a dangerous waste product into safe compost, without the smell, hassle, or fly problems. They are usually less expensive than conventional septic systems and they will reduce household water consumption by at least 25%.


Basic System


A composting toilet is basically a warm, well-ventilated container with a diverse community of aerobic microbes living inside that break down the waste materials. The process creates a dry, fluffy, odorless compost, similar to what's in a well-maintained garden compost pile.


A composting toilet has three basic elements: a place to sit, a composting chamber, and a drying tray. Most models combine all three elements in a single enclosure, although some models have separate seating, with the composting chamber installed in the basement or under the house. In either case, the drying tray is positioned under the composting chamber, and some sort of removable finishing

drawer is supplied to carry off the finished product.




Ninety percent of what goes into a composting toilet is water. Compost piles need to be damp to work well, but most composting toilets suffer from too much water.

Evaporation is the primary way a composting toilet gets rid of excess water. If evaporation can't keep up, then many units have an overflow that is plumbed to the household greywater or septic system. Warmth and air flow through the unit assist the evaporation process. Every composting toilet has a vertical vent pipe to carry off moisture. Air flows across the drying trays, around and through the pile, then up the vent to the outside of the building.

The low-grade heat produced by composting is supposed to provide sufficient updraft to carry vapor up the vent. However, like any passive vent with minimal heat, these are subject to downdrafts. Electric composters use vent fans and a small heating element as standard equipment. There are optional vent fans for non-electric models that can be battery or solar-driven.

Smaller composters certainly cost less, but because the pile is smaller they are more susceptible than larger models to all the problems that can plague any compost pile, such as liquid accumulation, insect infestations, low temperatures, and an unbalanced carbon/nitrogen ratio. Smaller composters require the user to take a more active role in the day-to-day maintenance of the unit. Smaller units with electric fans and thermostatically controlled heaters have far fewer problems than the totally non-electric units. So be aware that the less-expensive composting toilets have hidden, and long-range costs.

Smaller System

Soil Erosion  Soil, Erosion, and Sediment


Soil is more than just the brown muddy stuff you track in after a rainstorm. It is an intricate composite of living microorganisms, organic matter, and mineral matter worn down from parent rocks.

The process from rock to soil is a slow one. An average inch of topsoil, the richest of the soil layers in organic matter, takes hundreds of years to form.

As any home gardener knows, soils vary widely in fertility, mineral content, physical structure and the way they react to wind or water. Some soils drain slowly, making them a poor surface for roads or septic systems. Others are highly erodible and at the least disturbance can lead to a gully or streambank washout.

Soil erosion is a natural process. In stable watersheds the rate of erosion is slow, and natural healing processes can keep up with it. But in many watersheds, the high level of human disturbance has accelerated the rate of erosion beyond nature's healing qualities, and if not controlled, could have a long-term detrimental affect on Butte Creek.

The effects of soil erosion are not limited to the site where the soil is lost. The detached soil, called sediment, enters the water system and settles out, at a culvert inlet, a stream channel, or in a lake. Some sediment is needed to bring nutrients and substrate materials to aquatic ecosystems, but too much sediment causes problems.

In the water, sediments limit sunlight penetration, which robs aquatic plants of the light they require to live. In turn, fish and other aquatic animals are deprived of the oxygen provided by plants. Sand and silt particles moving through the water can literally scrub plants and animals off streambed surfaces. When waterborne soil particles eventually settle to the bottom of streams, they can smother fish eggs and other aquatic life. Sediments can also reduce stream channel capacity, causing further localized erosion and flooding.


Plants are a natural, inexpensive, and highly effective means of controlling runoff and erosion. Runoff slows down when it reaches a strip of vegetation and lose much of its erosive force. Vegetation also works as a filter, straining out sediment and debris, and absorbing other pollutants.

Some of the major problems caused by erosion are:

Degradation of water quality

As eroded material enters streams and channels, it degrades water quality both in the streams and in receiving waters such as Butte Creek. The eroded material contains nutrient loading
that ultimately feed the algae, and in large volumes, can degrade the quality of our creek.

When soil is not properly managed, such as when it plugs a culvert, or when it is disturbed at a construction site or by animals grazing near streambanks, the mass sediment that is accumulated has the potential of blocking or filling stream channels. This reduces the space the watercourse has available for stormflows. This increases flooding.

As land is developed and soil is disturbed and left unvegetated, it can wash downhill to roadside ditches. Sediment from these ditches flows into minor streams and the sediment is eventually carried and deposited into the creek.




Erosion Control  Basics of Erosion Control


Basic Rules for Preventing Erosion


Protect bare soil surfaces. Vegetation is the best protection because it both absorbs and uses water.


Minimize hard surfaces to maximize the water absorption capacity of your land. Avoid compacting soils by minimizing traffic and tillage operations when soils are wet. Keep heavy equipment off exposed soil during the rainy season. Use gravel for parking areas.

Do not concentrate water flow unless absolutely necessary. On undisturbed slopes, water percolates through soil slowly and somewhat steadily. Even during heavy rainfall, runoff that can't be absorbed flows evenly over the ground surface into the nearest drainage. When all the runoff is focused on one spot, such as a culvert or a roof gutter, the natural protection of the ground surface is often not sufficient to prevent this extra flow from breaking through to bare soil.. If you must focus runoff, protect the outflow area with an energy dissipator, such as rock or securely anchored brush that will withstand stormflows.


Limit livestock and human use of vulnerable areas. Livestock and people can provoke erosion by disturbing vegetation and creating trails that channel the flow.


Disturb existing vegetation as little as possible. The foliage and roots or plants hold topsoil and even subsoil in place and regulate the speed of water flowing through and over soil surface. The native plant community is especially well adapted to suit specific soil and rainfall conditions. Once it is disturbed by human activity, the soil becomes much more susceptible to erosion. Of course we need to harvest resources and build homes; but if you have a chance to leave native plants intact and keep them healthy, do!



Use grassed terraces, grassed waterways, or water bars, to reduce runoff velocity on long or steep slopes.


Avoid disturbing soils in the autumn. Plan activities such as plowing, logging, and construction for good weather, so vegetation covers the soil and protects it during rainy and freezing seasons.


Home Site Concerns


Prepare erosion-control plan.

Fence off sensitive areas.

Minimize area of disturbance (including access).

Minimize duration of disturbance.

Work during low-flow periods.

Minimize use of heavy machinery. Use smallest equipment possible.

Do NOT clean equipment in a regulated area, or where runoff will enter a drainage area.

Do NOT dump or spill material into wetland.

Remove excavated material in layers, and replace in original sequence.

Salvage native plant material. Consider creating a wetland plant nursery on-site for later reintroduction efforts. (This can be as simple as lining an area within a square of logs with plastic, laying wetland plants in the lined cradle, and ensuring that they do not dry out.)

Return disturbed area to pre-construction grade, and replant with appropriate native vegetation.

Restore stream profile, substrate, and habitat.


Erosion Control Structures Sheet Mulching & Outlet Protection



The installation of a protective covering (blanket) or soil-stabilization mat. Plant fibers typically used for mulch include straw, hay, and wood cellulose fiber.


Preventing erosion by protecting the soil surface from raindrop impact and reducing the velocity of overland flow;
Fostering the growth of vegetation by increasing available moisture and providing insulation against wind and extreme heat and cold;

Short, steep slopes where erosion hazard is high and planting is otherwise likely to be too slow in providing adequate protective cover;

Stream banks and shorelines where moving water is likely to wash out new plantings;

Areas where wind is likely to prevent other standard mulching practices from remaining in place until vegetation becomes established.



Use weed-free, seed-free, preferably organic, long-stemmed grass (NOT cereal-grain which may have secondary compounds toxic to other species) straw (stalks).

At least 50% of the material (by weight) should be at least 10" long.

Apply immediately after seeding.

Apply straw evenly at a rate of 2 tons/acre (1-2" deep).

Flake bales so that fibers remain interlocked, wind-resistant, and erosion-resistant; do NOT shred bales.

Do NOT leave more than 10% of the soil surface exposed.

Apply wood cellulose fiber at a rate of 1500 pounds/acre with a hydraulic seeder or mulcher.

Mix the mulch with water (1 pound of fiber:2 gallons water) and tackifier.

Where slopes are greater than 30%, use blankets or nets anchored to the soil. Where slopes are less than 30%, crimping is recommended.



Tackifiers if used to anchor mulch (acceptable in small areas sheltered from wind and heavy runoff), must NOT contain substances which might inhibit germination and plant growth (e.g., mineral filler, recycled cellulose fiber, clays). Powder derived from Desert Indianwheat (Plantago insularis) may be used.

Apply in a slurry (100 pounds powder/150 pounds wood fiber/700 gallons water). Apply powder at a rate of 80-200 pounds/acre.



Inspect frequently and reapply where necessary.



Erosion-resistant surface provided at the outlet of a water course.



 Diffusing energy

 Trapping sediments.



Place geotextile on original surface before placing outlet/apron and riprap. Do NOT puncture fabric. Overlap two pieces of fabric no less than 1'.

Set outlet and apron so that grade is level (0%).

Line the apron of the outlet with riprap, grouted riprap, concrete, or gabion baskets.

If high flow volume is anticipated, create a well-defined channel by filling with stone up and around the sides of the outlet/apron.



Inspect for scour after high flows.

Repair immediately.



Erosion Control Structures  Berms & Erosion Control Blankets



A ridge made of compacted soil.


Directing water from a maximum of 10 acres contributing surface;

Slopes of 5-10%;

Use in conjunction with swales to divert water eroding a streambank;

Diverting water along top of fill to avert erosion;

Directing clean water away from a disturbed site;

Use on contour in conjunction with swales

to slow the flow of water in order to increase infiltration into soil.



Build berms on, or nearly on, contour.

If berm is intended to divert water, create an uninterrupted, nearly level, steady grade to outlet. Maximum acceptable velocity of flow is 2'/sec.

If berm diverts water from disturbed area, use in combination with a sediment trap.

Build berms at least 18" high and 4.5' across at the base. Allow for 10% settling.

Use compact soil or coarse aggregate.

If used in combination with a ditch/swale, swale is uphill.

Stabilize soil surface immediately.



Check routinely for structural soundness.

Execute repairs immediately to prevent rapid erosion.




Material installed to protect erosive soils on slopes, in drainages, and in high-use areas



Protecting and stabilizing slopes;

Covering erosive soils prior to the establishment of vegetation;

Protecting erosive soils in high-use areas;

Protecting existing ground surfaces under temporary fills.



Prepare and seed the area.

Unroll blankets in direction of water flow (90 degrees to contour).

Do NOT stretch.

Bury upslope end in a 6" x 6" trench beyond crest of slope to avoid undercutting.

Overlap ends at least 6" and sides at least 4". Uphill strip overlaps downhill strip.

In channels, bury blanket in a 6" x 6" trench, at ends, and every 30’. Before backfilling, staple across width of trench in zigzag pattern at 6" intervals. Backfill to grade and tamp by foot.

Use pins or staples made of 4.2 mm (0.162") wire, or heavier. "U" staples must have 8" legs and 1" crowns.

"T" pins must be at least 8" long and 4" across the top. Triangular survey stakes may also be used.

Follow manufacturer's recommendation regarding stapling pattern.



Monitor; re-anchor and replace as necessary.




Road Erosion Assessment Checklist


An Aid to Determine Present and Potential Road Erosion Problems

Warnings found at road stream crossings (culverts and bridges):

Water ponds upstream of culvert (CMP) inlet during storms.

Treatment:  Inspect, clean and maintain CMP inlet; install larger diameter CMP.

    Sediment deposited from ponded water above culvert inlet.

Treatment: Clean inlet; install larger diameter CMP; upslope instability problem inspection with expert.

Woody debris deposited upstream of culvert inlet.

Treatment: Frequent winter inspections; remove debris; install trash rack.

Trash racks clogged above culverts and/or in inboard ditches (IBD).

Treatment: Frequently inspect and remove debris from trash racks.

High rust line in CMP (approximately 1/3 to 1/2 the height of the pipe may indicate an undersized pipe).

Treatment: Monitor in winter; replace with larger diameter CMP or bridge.

CMP inlet or outlet is crushed or torn and jagged bottom is worn through.

Treatment: Straighten inlet or outlet; replace pipe.

Presence of diversion potential (water will run down road when culvert plugs).

Treatment: Install rolling dip across road at, or adjacent to, culvert.

Overflow from a plugged culvert or inboard ditch has diverted down the road surface. Treatment: Clean out plugged culvert or ditch; install rolling dip at, or adjacent to, the crossing; upgrade undersized culvert.

The gully below the CMP outlet is larger than the gully above the crossing.
Install more cross-drains (IBD relief culverts, waterbars, or rolling dips) along inboard ditches draining to stream crossing.

General Practices: Replace Humboldt crossings, earth covered log stringer bridges, and culverts that have excessive fill with standard bridges or culverts, or completely remove the crossing.  Use erosion proof design when constructing or upgrading road systems.

Warnings found on road surfaces:

Rills or gullies running down roadbed. 

Treatment: Install rolling dips or waterbars, or outslope road.

Saturated roadbed - rushes, sedges, colts-foot, equisetum present.

Treatment: Install French drain; cross road drain IBD if cutbank is seeping saturated stream crossing may be caused by leaking, clogged, or undersized CMP install new, larger CMP.

Presence of tension cracks on road surface.

Treatment: Expert consultation, excavate and/or construct full bench road.

Rockfall on road, potentially due to instability or cutbank or hillslope above.

Treatment: Inspect hillslope for failure potential, expert consultation.

Warnings found on inside edge of road:
Inboard ditch channel is being downcut.
Treatment: Install more frequent CMP cross-drains, or outslope road surface thereby eliminating need for IBD.
The road cutbank is slumping, possibly creating IBD diversion.
Treatment: Clean and maintain IBD; expert consultation.
Rockfall in IBD, potentially due to instability of cutbank above.
Treatment: Clean and maintain IBD; inspect for hillslope failure potential; install cross-drains from IBD to parent earth below road.

Warnings found on outside edge of road:
Outboard fill or drain areas have gullies and head cut erosion occurring.
Treatment: Clean IBD; de-water site by eliminating diversion; install rolling dips or waterbars; clean IBD; armor drainage area, install downspouts on shotgun CMP outlets, or reset CMP to stream grade.
Persistent development of tension cracks on outboard fill.
Treatment: Consultation; excavate to stable angle; remove organic material in fill; construct full bench road.
Outboard berm (or berms if a double cut), is channeling water down the road.
Treatment: Breach berm at well-vegetated locations; remove berm completely, but avoid side-cast; relocate double cut sections, or raise road surface elevation.



Erosion Control Structures  Straw Bale & Sand Bag Barriers



Temporary structures to guide runoff



Areas subject to sheet and rill erosion (e.g., the toe of fills);

Intercepting and detaining small amounts of sediment from disturbed areas of limited extent (bales may filter 60-70% of sediment load);

Decreasing the velocity of sheet flows;

Situations in which effectiveness is required for less than three months;

Sites where maximum area is 0.5 acres/100' of barrier;

Sites where maximum slope above the barrier is 150’;

Sites where maximum grade is 45%;

Sites where precipitation is not anticipated to create significant runoff;

Situations in which a flow rate of 5-6 gallons/ sq.ft./minute is acceptable



Position barrier at least 5' from base of slope greater than 7% to allow runoff to pond and infiltrate and sediment to settle. In this way, initial movement of soil will not impede further effectiveness.

Place bales on contour, in a single row, lengthwise, with ends tightly abutting one another.

Place bales so that wire or twine bindings run

around the sides rather than across top and bottom, to prevent deterioration of bindings.

Entrench bales at least 4".

To obtain tight joints, pin bales in position with two stakes (at least 2" x 2" x 36") or standard "T" or "U" steel posts (minimum weight 1.33 pounds/linear foot) driven toward the previously staked bale. Do NOT use rebar, as it has proven to be dangerous when protruding. Drive stakes at least 12-18" into the ground.

Chink bales (fill gaps with loose straw) to prevent water from escaping between bales.

Backfill bales with the excavated soil.



Fill to ground level on downhill side; build up 4" on uphill side.

Sheet mulch (flakes of straw bales) uphill from the barrier to increase efficiency.



Inspect bale barriers immediately after each rainfall and at least daily during prolonged rainfall.

Repair damaged bales, end runs, and undercutting immediately.

Remove sediment deposits when they reach 1/2 the height of the exposed barrier.

Replace bales that are clogged with sediment.

(Flake and spread as mulch over disturbed surfaces uphill from barrier.)

Remove barrier when upslope area is permanently stabilized. Restore any remaining trenches and deposits to conform with existing grade, and seed them.



Temporary structures to guide runoff



Directing water from a maximum of 10 acres contributing surface;

Slopes of 5-10%;

Use in conjunction with swales to divert water eroding a streambank;

Diverting water along top of fill to avert erosion;

Directing clean water away from a disturbed site;

Use on contour in conjunction with swales to slow the flow of water in order to increase infiltration into soil.



Height: 18"

Base width: at least 48"

Stack sandbags using an alternately layered method.

When waterproofing is desired, cover with a plastic liner. Bury upslope/upstream end.



Inspect routinely; repair any breaks promptly.

Do not allow sediment to accumulate more than 6".


Straw Bale Barrier





Straw Catchment



Grassed Waterway



A grassed waterway/vegetated filter system is a natural or constructed vegetated channel that is shaped and graded to carry surface water at a nonerosive velocity to a stable outlet that spreads the flow of water before it enters a vegetated filter.



Grassed waterways convey runoff from terraces, diversions, or other water concentrations. Vegetation in the waterway protects the soil from erosion caused by concentrated flows, while carrying water downslope. The stable outlet is designed to slow and spread the flow of water before the water enters a vegetated filter.


Where used

 Where water concentrates and gully erosion is a problem, commonly in draws and other low-lying areas.

As outlets for other conservation practices, such as diversions and terraces.

Where a stable, spreading-type outlet and vegetated filter can be designed and maintained.


The vegetated filter is designed to trap sediment and increase infiltration so that other pollutants, such as pesticides and nutrients, can be reduced from surface runoff. The grassed waterway also offers diversity and cover for wildlife.


Vegetation establishment

For the stable, spreading type outlet, select perennial plant species (native species are encouraged where possible) that has compatible characteristics to the site. Use sod-forming plants that have stiff, upright stems that provide a dense filter. Use the recommendations for filter strips for the area below the outlet. Establish vegetation before allowing water to flow in the waterway. Use irrigation and mulch to hasten establishment of vegetation as necessary

Operation and maintenance

Tillage and row direction should be perpendicular to the grassed waterway to allow surface drainage into the waterway and to prevent flows along edges.

Provide stabilized machinery crossings, where needed, to prevent rutting of the waterway.

Protect vegetation from direct herbicide sprays and use plant species tolerant of chemicals used.

The grassed waterway outlet should be kept as wide and shallow as possible to slow the velocity of water, increase infiltration, and spread flows evenly across a wide area before entering a vegetated filter.



The grassed waterway and filter system can also enhance the wildlife objectives depending on the vegetative species used and management practiced. Consider using native or adapted vegetative species that can provide food and cover for important wildlife. Delay mowing of waterway and filter area until after the nesting season.



Important wildlife habitat, such as woody cover or wetlands, should be avoided or protected if possible when siting the grassed waterway. If trees and shrubs are incorporated, they should be retained or planted in the periphery of grassed waterways so they do not interfere with hydraulic functions. Mid- or tall bunch grasses and perennial forms may also be planted along waterway margins to improve wildlife habitat. Waterways with these wildlife features are more beneficial when connecting other habitat types; e.g., riparian areas, wooded tracts and wetlands.

Water-tolerant vegetation may be an alternative on some wet sites.

Use irrigation in dry regions or supplemental irrigation as necessary to promote germination and vegetation establishment.

Provide livestock and vehicular crossings as necessary to prevent damage to the waterway and its vegetation.

Establish filter strips on each side of the waterway to improve water quality.

Grassed WaterWay



Capacity The minimum capacity shall be that required to convey the peak runoff expected from a storm of 10-year frequency, 24-hour duration. When the waterway slope is less than 1 percent, out-of-bank flow may be permitted if such flow will not cause excessive erosion. The minimum in such cases shall be the capacity required to remove the water before crops are damaged.

Velocity Design velocities shall not exceed those obtained by using the procedures, "n" values, and recommendations in the NRCS Engineering Field Handbook (EFH) Part 650, Chapter 7, or Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Agricultural Handbook 667, Stability Design of Grass-lined Open Channels.


Depth The minimum depth of a waterway that receives water from terraces, diversions, or other tributary channels shall be that required to keep the design water surface elevation at, or below the design water surface elevation in the tributary channel, at their junction when both are flowing at design depth.

Freeboard above the designed depth shall be provided when flow must be contained to prevent damage. Freeboard shall be provided above the designed depth when the vegetation has the maximum expected retardance.



Width The bottom width of trapezoidal waterways shall not exceed 100 feet unless multiple or divided waterways or other means are provided to control meandering of low flows.


Side slopes Side slopes shall not be steeper than a ratio of two horizontal to one vertical.  They shall be designed to accommodate the equipment anticipated to be used for maintenance and tillage/harvesting equipment that will cross the waterway.


Drainage Designs for sites having prolonged flows, a high water table, or seepage problems shall include Subsurface Drains (NRCS Practice Code 606), Underground Outlets (NRCS Practice Code 620), Stone Center Waterways or other suitable measures to avoid saturated conditions.


Outlets All grassed waterways shall have a stable outlet with adequate capacity to prevent ponding or flooding damages. The outlet can be another vegetated channel, an earthen ditch, a grade-stabilization structure, filter strip or other suitable outlet






  Access Roads


Conditions where practice applies

Where access is needed from a private or public road or highway.


Design criteria

Access roads shall be designed to serve the enterprise or planned use with the expected vehicular or equipment traffic. The type of vehicle or equipment, speed, loads, climatic, and other conditions under which vehicles and equipment are expected to operate need to be considered.

Visual resources and environmental values shall be considered in planning and designing the road system.

Access roads range from seldom used trails to all-weather roads heavily used by the public and built to very high standards. Some trails facilitate control of forest fires are used for logging, serve as access to remote areas for recreation, or are used for maintenance of facilities.

Where general public use is anticipated, roads should be designed to meet applicable federal, state, or local criteria.

Sound engineering practices shall be followed to insure that the road meets the requirements of its intended use and that maintenance requirements are in line with operating budgets.


The type of drainage structure used will depend on the type of enterprise and runoff conditions. Culverts, bridges, or grade dips for water management shall be provided at all natural drainageways. The capacity and design shall be consistent with sound engineering principles and shall be adequate for the class of vehicle, type of road, development, or use.

Roadside ditches shall be adequate to provide surface drainage for the roadway and deep enough, as needed to serve as outlets for subsurface drainage. Channels shall be designed to be on stable grades or protected with structures or linings for stability.

Water breaks or bars may be used to control surface runoff on low-intensity use forest or similar roads. 


Access roads shall be given a wearing course or surface treatment if required by traffic needs, climate, erosion control, or dust control. The type of treatment depends on local conditions, available materials, and the existing road base. If these factors or the volume of traffic is not a problem, no special treatment of the surface is required.

Unsurfaced roads may require controlled access to prevent damage or hazardous conditions during adverse climatic conditions.

Toxic and acid-forming materials shall not be used on roads. This should not be construed to prohibit use of chemicals for dust control and snow and ice removal.

Traffic safety

Passing lanes, turnouts, guardrails, signs, and other facilities as needed for safe traffic flow shall be provided. Traffic safety shall be a prime factor in selecting the angle and grade of the intersection with public highways. Preferably, the angles shall be not less than 85 degrees. The public highway shall be entered either at the top of a hill or far enough from the top or a curve to provide visibility and a safe sight distance. The clear sight distance to each side shall not be less than 300 feet, if site conditions permit.


Access Road Specifications

Construction operations shall be carried out in such a manner that erosion and air and water pollution are minimized and held within legal limits. The completed job shall present a workmanlike finish. Construction shall be according to the following requirements as specified for the job:

1. Trees, stumps, roots, brush, weeds, and other objectionable material shall be removed from the work area.
2. Unsuitable material shall be removed from the roadbed area.
3. Grading, subgrade preparation, and compaction shall be done as needed.
4. Surfacing shall be done as needed.
5. Roads shall be planned and laid out  according to good landscape management principles.




Roads shall be located to serve the purpose intended, to facilitate the control and disposal of water, to control or reduce erosion, to make the best use of topographic features, and to include scenic vistas where possible. The roads should generally follow natural contours and slopes to minimize disturbance of drainage patterns.  Roads should be located where they can be maintained and so water management problems are not created. To reduce pollution, roads should not be located too near watercourses.


The gradient and vertical and horizontal alignment shall be adapted to the intensity of use, mode of travel, and the level of development.
Grades normally should not exceed 10 percent except for short lengths, but maximum grades of 20 percent or more may be used if necessary for special uses.

The minimum width of the roadbed is 14 ft for one-way traffic and 20 ft for two-way traffic. Single-lane logging or special-purpose roads have a minimum width of 10 ft, with greater widths at curves and turnouts. The two-way traffic width shall be increased approximately 4 ft for trailer traffic.


The minimum tread width is 10 ft for one-way traffic and 15 ft for two-way traffic. The tread width for two-way traffic shall be increased approximately 4 ft for trailer traffic.

The minimum shoulder width is 2 ft on each side of the tread width.

Where turnouts are used, road width shall be increased to a minimum of 20 ft for a distance of 30 ft.

Side slopes

All cuts and fills shall have side slopes designed to be stable for the particular site conditions.
Areas with geological conditions and soils subject to slides shall be avoided or treated to prevent slides.

Erosion control.

If soil and climatic conditions are favorable, roadbanks and disturbed areas shall be vegetated as soon as possible and skid trails, landings, logging, and similar roads shall be vegetated after harvesting or seasonal use is completed. If the use of vegetation is precluded and protection against erosion is needed, protection shall be provided by nonvegetative materials, such as gravel or other mulches.

Roadside channels, cross drains, and drainage structure inlets and outlets shall be designed to be stable without protection. If protection is needed, riprap or other similar materials shall be used.


General criteria

Watercourses and water quality shall be protected during and after construction by erosion-control facilities and maintenance.

Filter strips, sediment and water control basins, and other conservation practices shall be used and maintained as needed.

Dead end roads shall be provided with a turnaround. In some areas turnarounds may also be desirable for stream, lake, recreation, or other access purposes.
Parking space as needed shall be provided to keep vehicles off the road or from being parked in undesirable locations.



1. Short-term and construction-related effects of this practice on the quality of on site downstream water courses.

2. Effects on erosion and the movement of sediment, pathogens, and soluble and sediment-attached substances that would be carried by runoff.

3. Effects on the visual quality of water resources.

4. Effects on the movement of dissolved substances below the root zone toward the ground water.

5 Effects on wetlands and water-related wildlife habitats that would be associated with the practice.



Preventing Washboarding


Preventing Washboarding

One of the most aggravating gravel maintenance problems that plagues motor grader operators, managers, and elected officials is corrugation or "washboarding". It not only produces an uncomfortable ride, but moderate to severe washboarding can cause a driver to have less control of his or her vehicle. It actually becomes a safety problem.


Main Causes of Washboarding

Lack of moisture

When frequent rainfall occurs, washboarding is greatly reduced. Prolonged dry weather can cause washboarding in almost any situation, even with relatively low traffic.


People's driving habits can really aggravate washboarding. Hard acceleration or hard braking are the greatest problems. Consequently washboarding will appear at locations such as intersections, coming into or going out of sharp curves, business entrances, and sometimes even at driveways.

Poor quality gravel

There are several things to consider in determining quality. Washboarding will almost certainly develop it the surface gravel has poor gradation, little or no binding characteristic, and a low percentage of fractured stone.


What is good gravel?

In prolonged dry weather, almost any section of road with a high traffic count will develop some corrugation, but good gravel will definitely reduce the problem.

Good surface gravel should have a nice blend of stone, sand, and fines. Generally, the maximum size stone should be 3/4 inch. Crushed gravel that has a high percentage of fractured stone will have much better aggregate interlock and will stay in place on the road surface better than rock with a naturally rounded shape. This also gives the road better strength. There must also be a good mix of sand-size particles and fines. The ideal blend produces a gravel that will compact into a dense, tight mass with an almost impervious surface. This will reduce washboarding dramatically.



Perhaps the least understood factor in obtaining good surface gravel is the right percentage and quality of fine material. This is the percentage of material that passes the #200 sieve. In order to resist washboarding, the gravel must have a good cohesiveness or binding characteristic.

Commercial binders are available, but most people generally rely on natural clays. True clay, when it is separated down to individual particles, will be so fine that you cannot see the individual particles with the naked eye. These particles, when exposed to moisture, will cling together tightly, and this is what we want in our gravel.

Obtaining good gravel in the field is the real challenge. Yet this is the place to begin fighting washboard problems. Start by establishing good specifications. We generally see close control of materials used in the base and the asphalt or concrete on our major constructions projects. However, when surface material is produced for the "plain old gravel road," very little attention is given to the specification.

The real keys are to increase your knowledge of materials and then follow through by specifying what you want. Make this clear before you let bids for crushing and/or supplying gravel. Communicate with your supplier. Some pits or quarries do not have a good natural blend of material. In some cases, material such as clay or stone may have to be hauled in and blended at the plant.

Don't overemphasize a cheap initial cost for material. You will pay either way: by purchasing cheaper material up front, spending more to maintain and replace it over the years, and taking more complaints from the public, or by paying more for quality material that requires less maintenance, lasts longer, and generates fewer complaints.


Remember also that trucking is often 70 percent or more of the total cost of gravel placed on the road. Spending more to increase the quality of the gravel itself does not change the total cost as much as you might think.


You should consider hauling the best material you can find to real washboard trouble spots. Use regular material available to you for the rest of the road system.


Riparian Buffer Zones






Begins at the top of stream bank with a minimum width of 15 feet measured horizontally on a line perpendicular to the streambank.

Creates a stable ecosystem adjacent to the water's edge. Provides soil and water contact to facilitate nutrient buffering. Provides shade to moderate and stabilize water temperature and to contribute necessary detritus to the stream ecosystem.

Dominant vegetation should be composed of a variety of native riparian tree and shrub species and such plantings as necessary for streambank stabilization. A mix of species will provide the prolonged stable leaf fall and variety of leaves necessary to meet the energy and pupation needs of aquatic insects.


Begins at the edge of zone 1 and extends a minimum average width of 20 feet measured horizontally in the direction of flow.

Provides contact time for buffering process to occur and to sequester nutrients, organic matter, pesticides, sediment, and other pollutants.

Concentrated flow should be converted to sheet flow or subsurface flow before entering this zone. Predominant vegetation will be composed of riparian trees and shrubs suitable to the site, with emphasis on native species.


Begins at the edge of zone 2 and extends horizontally in the direction of flow.

Provides sediment filtering, nutrient uptake, and the space to convert concentrated flow to uniform flow.

Vegetation should be comprised of native grass and forbs. Zone 3 is only required for concentrated flow conditions dependent on the site.




Streambank Protection



Treatments used to stabilize and protect banks of streams or constructed channels, and shorelines of lakes, reservoirs, or estuaries.



·         To prevent the loss of land or damage to land uses, or other facilities adjacent to the banks, including the protection of known historical, archeological, and traditional cultural properties.

·         To maintain the flow or storage capacity of the water body or to reduce the offsite or downstream effects of sediment resulting from bank erosion.

·         To improve or enhance the stream corridor for fish and wildlife habitat, aesthetics, recreation.

Conditions where practice applies

This practice applies to streambanks of natural or constructed channels and shorelines of lakes, reservoirs, or estuaries where they are susceptible to erosion. It applies to controlling erosion where the problem can be solved with relatively simple structural measures, vegetation, or upland erosion control practices.


General Criteria Applicable to All Purposes

Measures must be installed according to a site-specific plan and in accordance with all applicable local, state, and federal laws and regulations.

Protective measures to be applied shall be compatible with improvements planned or being carried out by others.

Protective measures shall be compatible with the bank or shoreline materials, water chemistry, channel or lake hydraulics, and slope characteristics both above and below the water line.

End sections shall be adequately bonded to existing measures, terminate in stable areas, or be otherwise stabilized.

Protective measures shall be installed on stable slopes. Bank or shoreline materials and type of measure installed shall determine maximum slopes.

Designs will provide for protection from upslope runoff. 


Additional Improvement Criteria for Stream Corridor

Stream corridor vegetative components shall be established as necessary for ecosystem functioning and stability. The appropriate composition of vegetative components is a key element in preventing excess long-term channel migration in re-established stream corridors.

Measures shall be designed to achieve any habitat and population objectives for fish and wildlife species or communities of concern as determined by a site-specific assessment or management plan. Objectives are based on the survival and reproductive needs of populations and communities, which include habitat diversity, habitat linkages, daily and seasonal habitat ranges, limiting factors and native plant communities. The type, amount, and distribution of vegetation shall be based on the requirements of the fish and wildlife species or communities of concern to the extent possible.

Measures shall be designed to meet any aesthetic objectives as determined by a site-specific assessment or management plan. Aesthetic objectives are based on human needs, including visual quality, noise control, and microclimate control. Construction materials, grading practices, and other site development elements shall be selected and designed to be compatible with adjacent land uses.

Measures shall be designed to achieve any recreation objectives as determined by a site-specific assessment or management plan.  Recreation objectives are based on type of human use and safety requirements.



An assessment of streambank or shoreline protection needs should be made in sufficient detail to identify the causes contributing to the instability (e.g. watershed alterations resulting in significant modifications of discharge or sediment production). Due to the complexity of such an assessment an interdisciplinary team should be utilized.

When designing protective measures, consider the changes that may occur in the watershed. When appropriate, establish a buffer strip and/or diversion at the top of the bank or shoreline protection zone to help maintain and protect installed measures, improve their function, filter out sediments, nutrients, and pollutants from runoff, and provide additional wildlife habitat.



Internal drainage for bank seepage shall be provided when needed. Geotextiles or properly designed filter bedding shall be used on structural measures where there is the potential for migration of material from behind the measure.

Measures applied shall not adversely affect threatened and endangered species nor species of special concern as defined by the appropriate state and federal agencies.

Measures shall be designed for anticipated ice action and fluctuating water levels.

All disturbed areas around protective measures shall be protected from erosion.  Disturbed areas that are not to be cultivated shall be protected as soon as practical after construction.  Vegetation shall be selected that is best suited for the soil/moisture regime.


Additional Criteria

The channel grade shall be stable based on a field assessment before any permanent type of bank protection can be considered feasible, unless the protection can be constructed to a depth below the anticipated lowest depth of streambed scour.

A protective toe shall be provided based on an evaluation of stream bed and bank stability.

Channel clearing to remove stumps, fallen trees, debris, and bars shall only be done when they are causing or could cause detrimental bank erosion or structural failure. Habitat forming elements that provide cover, food, and pools, and water turbulence shall be retained or replaced to the extent possible.

Changes in channel alignment shall not be made unless the changes are based on an evaluation that includes an assessment of both upstream and downstream fluvial geomorphology. The current and future discharge-sediment regime shall be based on an assessment of the watershed above the proposed channel alignment.

Measures shall be functional for the design flow and sustainable for higher flow conditions based on acceptable risk.

Measures shall be designed to avoid an increase in natural erosion downstream.

Measures planned shall not limit stream flow access to the floodplain.

When water surface elevations are a concern, the effects of protective measures shall not increase flow levels above those that existed prior to installation.


Consider conservation and stabilization of archeological, historic, structural and traditional cultural properties when applicable.

Measures should be designed to minimize safety hazards to boaters, swimmers, or people using the shoreline or streambank.

Protective measures should be self-sustaining or require minimum maintenance.

Consider utilizing debris removed from the channel or streambank into the treatment design.

Use construction materials, grading practices, vegetation, and other site development elements that minimize visual impacts and maintain or complement existing landscape uses such as pedestrian paths, climate controls, buffers, etc. Avoid excessive disturbance and compaction of the site during installation.

Utilize vegetative species that are native and/or compatible with local ecosystems. Avoid introduced or exotic species that could become nuisances. Consider species that have multiple values such as those suited for biomass, nuts, fruit, browse, nesting, aesthetics and tolerance to locally used herbicides. Avoid species that may be alternate hosts to disease or undesirable pests. Species diversity should be considered to avoid loss of function due to species-specific pests. Species on noxious plant lists should not be used.

Livestock exclusion should be considered during establishment of vegetative measures and appropriate grazing practices applied after establishment to maintain plant community integrity. Wildlife may also need to be controlled during establishment of vegetative measures. Temporary and local population control methods should be used with caution and within state and local regulations.

Measures that promote beneficial sediment deposition and the filtering of sediment, sediment-attached, and dissolved substances should be considered.

Consider maintaining or improving the habitat value for fish and wildlife, including lowering or moderating water temperature, and improving water quality.

Consideration should be given to protecting side channel inlets and outlets from erosion.

Toe rock should be large enough to provide a stable base and graded to provide aquatic habitat.

Consider maximizing adjacent wetland functions and values with the project design and minimize adverse effects to existing wetland functions and values.

Stream Crossing (Temporary)


Stream Crossings TEMPORARY


Serving road and trail detours while bridge and/or culverts are being constructed, repaired, or replaced.



Include in plans a description/diagram of the stream’s original contours/features for restoration purposes.

For bridges, use wood, metal, or other appropriate material.

Cross at right angles to the stream.

To minimize contamination of water with sediment derived from construction activities, pipe water through the active construction site.

Design the bridge to span the channel at or above bank elevation. Anchor securely with steel cable or chain.

Pipes are necessary to conduct water beneath crossings constructed of aggregate.

Use reinforced concrete, corrugated metal pipe no longer than 40".

Line the stream bed and banks with a geotextile before placing the pipes and aggregate. The textile must extend at least 12" beyond the end of the pipe/culvert. The pipe/culvert must extend at least 12" beyond the toe of the aggregate embankment.

If the structure is to be in place less than a month, select pipe diameter to accommodate flow from a 2-year-frequency storm. If structure is to be in place for longer than a month, plan to accommodate a 5-year-frequency storm. Minimum diameter is 18". Imbed pipe 12" into channel, and backfill.

If more than one pipe is used, allow distance of 1/2 diameter of the pipe between them (no less than 12", no more than 36"). Fill between pipes with aggregate.





To minimize the adverse impacts of on-site handling of fill imported or excavated for wetland projects, protect wetland surfaces with geotextile or a 2' bed of straw before depositing fill materials even temporarily.


Inspect after each storm event and repair immediately.

When the crossing is no longer necessary, restore the stream to its original configuration.



Culvert and Drainage Ditches



Conduct detailed soil, vegetation, and species inventories prior to any surface disturbance.

Analyze flood potential for human safety and structural stability.

Build only what is currently necessary.

Construct road/trail when ground is frozen to

preserve the integrity of the root mat as much as possible.

Do NOT undertake construction during spring thaw and other wet periods.

Use signage to indicate sensitive areas.

Orient ditches parallel to the roadbed.

Place ditches at a distance from the roadbed equal to three times the depth of the organic soil.

Dig ditches as deep as culverts lie.

Divert outflow from drainage ditches before they enter wetlands.

To provide adequate drainage where organic layers are in excess of 16" in thickness. Culverts must be 24” in diameter and half buried in the soil surface to provide for both surface and subsurface flow.


Culvert Cross Section

Headwall Details


Culvert and Drainage Ditches



Design to minimize culvert requirements.

Where roads and trails must cross wetlands, provide cross-drainage during both flooded and low-water periods.

Where culverts are used, allow for the passage of fish and in-stream debris.

Where the organic layer is greater than 48" thick, placed culverts at the lowest points of roadbed and on firm subsurfaces (e.g., at margin of wetland, at points where organic mat is thin). In this case, construct ditches on both sides of the roadbed to collect surface and subsurface water, channel waters through culverts, and disperse waters again on the downslope side; orient ditches parallel to the roadbed; place them at a distance from the roadbed equal to three times the depth of the organic soil;

dig them as deep as culverts lie.

To collect surface and subsurface water, construct ditches on both sides of the roadbed.

Channel waters through culverts, and disperse waters again on the downslope side.

Use water velocity dissipaters on all culvert outflows.



Dissipater Details



 Streambed Alteration Agreements


Why are Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreements necessary?

California's lakes, rivers, and streams provide valuable habitat for fish and wildlife. The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for conserving, protecting, and managing California's fish, wildlife, and native plant resources.

To meet this responsibility, the Fish and Game Code requires notifying DFG of any proposed project that may impact a river, stream, or lake.

If DFG determines that the project may adversely affect existing fish or wildlife resources, a Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement is required.

By notifying DFG and entering into a Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement, you are contributing to the protection and conservation of California’s natural resources.

Who needs to notify the Department of Fish and Game?

Notification to DFG is required by any person, business, state or local government agency, or public utility that proposes an activity that will:

Divert, obstruct, or change the natural flow or the bed, channel or bank of any river stream or lake;

Use material from a streambed; or

Result in the disposal or deposition of debris, waste, or other material where it can pass into any river, stream, or lake.


What does DFG consider Notification?

The notification requirement applies to any work undertaken in or near a river, stream, or lake that flows at least intermittently through a bed or channel. This includes ephemeral streams, desert washes, and water courses with a subsurface flow. It may also apply to any work undertaken within the flood plain of a body of water.

If you are planning a project similar to one of the examples listed below, you will need to notify DFG before you start your project or activity!

Place a pier in a waterway

Add a levee for flood control



Install bank protection to prevent erosion

Grade the bank of a stream

Cross a stream with a culvert or bridge

Drill or tunnel under a water course

Build a dam to create a pond or lake

Extract gravel from a channel

Remove vegetation or wood from a stream

To formally notify DFG of a proposed project or activity, you will need to provide the regional office in your project area with the following:

A completed notification form (FG2023). This form requires all of the following.

Map of the project location

Project description

Construction plans and drawings

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) documentation when applicable

Copies of any local, State, Federal or other required permits/authorizations

A completed project questionnaire form (FG2024)

The appropriate application fee as specified in the current fee schedule


What happens after you notify DFG?

After the DRG determines your notification is complete, DFG has a minimum of 30 days to review your project unless the deadline has been extended by mutual agreement.

During this time, DFG staff may visit the project site to help them determine whether your project would harm fish or wildlife resources.

If DFG determines that your proposed project or activity would not cause any harm, you will be notified that a Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement is not required.

If, however, DFG determines that your proposed project or activity could have substantial adverse effects on fish or wildlife, you will receive a list of steps you will need to take to protect these resources. DFG staff will work with you to try to find a mutually acceptable solution.


Contact DFG before you start!

(530) 342-8495




 Firewise Landscaping  Construction Checklist


When constructing, renovating, or adding to a firewise home, consider the following:

Choose a firewise location.

Design and build a firewise structure.

Employ firewise landscaping and maintenance.

To select a firewise location, observe the following:

Slope of terrain; be sure to build on the most level portion of the land, since fire spreads rapidly, even on minor slopes. Fire increases in intensity 3 - 5 times when it is moving up a slope.

Set your single-story structure at least 30 feet back from any ridge or cliff; increase distance if your home will be higher than one story.

In designing and building your firewise structure, remember that the primary goals are fuel and exposure reduction. To this end:

Use construction materials that are fire-resistant or non-combustible whenever possible.

For roof construction, consider using materials such as Class-A asphalt shingles, slate or clay tile, metal, cement and concrete products, or terra-cotta tiles.

Constructing a fire-resistant sub-roof can add protection, as well.

On exterior wall cladding, fire resistive materials such as stucco or masonry are much better than vinyl that can soften and melt.

Consider both size and materials for windows; smaller panes hold up better in their frames than larger ones; double pane glass and tempered glass are more effective than single pane glass; plastic skylights can melt.

Cover windows and skylights with non-flammable screening shutters.

To prevent sparks from entering your home through vents, cover exterior attic and underfloor vents with wire mesh no larger than 1/8 of an inch; make sure undereave and soffit vents are closer to the roof line than the wall; and box in eaves, but provide adequate ventilation to prevent condensation.

Include a driveway that is wide enough - 12 feet wide with a vertical clearance of 15 feet and a slope that is less than 12 percent - to provide easy access for fire engines. The driveway and access roads should be well maintained, clearly marked, and include ample turnaround space near the house. Also consider access to water supply, if possible.


Provide at least two ground level doors for safety exits and at least two means of escape - either a door or window - in each room, so that everyone has a way out.

Keep gutters, eaves, and roof clear of leaves and other debris.

Make an occasional inspection of your home, looking for deterioration such as breaks and spaces between roof tiles, warping wood, or cracks and crevices in the structure.

Also, inspect your property, clearing dead wood and dense vegetation from at least 30 feet from your house, and moving firewood away from the house or attachments, like fences or decks.

Any structures attached to the house, such as decks, porches, fences, and outbuildings should be considered part of the house. These structures can act as fuses or fuel bridges, particularly if constructed from flammable materials.

Therefore, consider the following:

If you wish to attach an all-wood fence to your home, use masonry or metal as a protective barrier between the fence and house.

Use non-flammable metal when constructing a trellis and cover with high-moisture, non-flammable vegetation.

Prevent combustible materials and debris from accumulating beneath patio deck or elevated porches; screen under or box in areas below ground line with wire mesh no larger than 1/8 of an inch.

Make sure an elevated wooden deck is not located at the top of a hill where it will be in direct line of a fire moving up slope; consider a terrace instead.

Defensible Space



Defensible Space


Defensible Space

Homeowners can greatly reduce the risk of wildfire by creating "defensible space" around structures.

Section 4291 of the California Public Resource Code requires clearing flammable vegetation around structures a minimum of 30 feet, up to 200 feet depending on conditions. In areas of dense vegetation, at least 100 feet of clearance is needed. However, on hillsides where fire spreads more rapidly and with greater intensity, a clearance of 200 feet or more may be advisable.

The need to be firewise must be balanced with the need for privacy, shade, and aesthetics. Reducing fuel volume and eliminating highly flammable plants in the defensible space is key to being firewise.


Defensible Space

Create a "defensible space" by removing all dry grass, brush, and dead leaves at least 30 feet from your home.

On steep slopes, remove flammable vegetation out to 100 feet or more.

Replace native plants with ornamental landscaping plants that are fire resistive.

Space trees and shrubs at least 10 feet apart. Reduce the number of trees in heavily wooded areas.

For trees smaller than 18 feet, prune lower branches within six feet of the ground to keep ground fires from spreading into treetops.

Stack firewood and scrap woodpiles at least 30 feet from any structure and clear away flammable

vegetation that is within 10 feet of these woodpiles.

Remove dead branches overhanging your roof.

Remove any branches within 10 feet of your chimney.

Clean all dead leaves and needles from your roof and gutters.

Clear flammable vegetation at least 10 feet from    roads and five feet from driveways

Cover your chimney outlet and stovepipe with a nonflammable screen of 1/2 inch or smaller mesh.

Locate LPG tanks (butane and propane) at least 30 feet from any structure and surround them with 10 feet of clearance.

Defensible space must be regularly maintained to be effective.



Defensible Space Considerations

for New Home Construction

Build your home away from ridge tops, canyons and areas between high points on a ridge.

Build your home at least 30 feet from your property line.

Install a roof that meets the fire resistance classification of "Class C" or better.

Use fire resistive building materials.

Enclose the underside of balconies and above ground decks with fire resistive materials.

Limit the size and number of windows in your home that face large areas of vegetation.

Install only dual-paned or triple-paned windows.

On steep slopes, remove flammable vegetation out to 100 feet or more.

Construct roads that allow two-way traffic.

Construct turnouts along one-way roads.

Design road width, grade and curves to allow access for large emergency vehicles.

Make sure dead-end roads and long driveways have turnaround areas wide enough for emergency vehicles.

Construct driveways to allow large emergency equipment to reach your house.

Design bridges to carry heavy emergency vehicles, including bulldozers carried on large trucks.

Post clear road signs to show traffic restrictions such as dead-end roads, and weight and height limitations.

Make sure that your street is named or numbered, and a sign is visibly posted at each street intersection.

Make sure that your street name and house number are not duplicated elsewhere in the county.

Post your house address at the beginning of your driveway, or on your house if it is easily visible from the road.

Maintain an emergency water supply that meets fire department standards through a community water/hydrant system, a cooperative emergency storage tank with neighbors, or a minimum storage supply of 2,500 gallons on your property.

Clearly mark all emergency water sources.

Create easy firefighter access to your closest emergency water source. The number one cause of home losses in wildland fires is from untreated wood shake roofs.


Wildfire  Your Family's Wildfire Response Plan



If you don't already have one, start now to create a "wildfire response plan" for your household.

Determine all the possible evacuation routes from your house and neighborhood.

Identify possible "safe areas" in the area in the event evacuation is not possible.

Safe areas include those areas with plenty of open space and little or no fuels, such as school yards and parking lots.

Identify a friend or relative who resides outside of your area, that can serve as a contact for relaying telephone messages.

Establish a prearranged meeting place should evacuation be necessary while family members are separated.

If you are unable to evacuate, or you choose to stay with your home, you can use the items below as a checklist to assist in protecting your home and family when a wildfire approaches.

Contact a friend or relative and relay your plans.

It’s important to have basic fire fighting equipment close at hand----shovels, axes, rakes, pulaskis, personal safety gear, etc.

Keep your car fueled.

Place valuable papers and mementos in the car. Place vehicles in the garage, have them pointing out, with the windows rolled up. Leave the key in the ignition.

Close the garage doors, but leave it unlocked. Disconnect automatic garage door openers.

Move combustible outdoor furniture into the house or garage.

Turn off all pilot lights and shut off propane at the tank.

Wear only cotton or wool clothes, including long pants, long sleeve shirt or jacket, and boots.

Carry gloves, and a handkerchief or bandanna to cover your face and goggles if available.

Close all exterior doors and windows, and any other exterior vents.  Also close all interior doors.


Make sure that all garden hoses are connected to faucets and attach a spray nozzle.

Remove non-fire resistant curtains and other combustible materials from around the windows.

Move furniture, such as couches and easy chairs, etc. towards the center of the room and away from the windows and doors.

Inside, fill tubs, sinks and other containers with water. Outside, do the same with garbage cans and buckets.

Remember that the water heater and toilet tank are available sources of water.

Remember to use rags, towels or small rugs soaked in water to beat out embers that land around the house.

Close fire resistant drapes, shutters, or Venetian blinds. Attach pre-cut plywood panels to the exterior side of windows and glass doors.

Prop a ladder against the house to provide easy access to the roof for firefighters.

Continually check the roof and attic for embers, smoke or fire. Do the same for exterior decks and areas next to the house.

Use the telephone ONLY for emergency needs or to report dangerous conditions.

Tune to local radio or television stations for emergency information and instructions from local authorities.

Confine pets to one room.

Most importantly, STAY CALM!


If you are trapped in a wildfire:

You cannot outrun a fire. Crouch in a pond or river. Cover head and upper body with wet clothing. If water is not around, look for shelter in a cleared area or among a bed of rocks. Lie flat and cover body with wet clothing or soil. Breathe the air close to the ground through a wet cloth to avoid scorching lungs or inhaling smoke.

If Trapped in a





 Flood Protection  Flood Insurance


Who Is at Risk for Flooding?

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the U.S., and nearly everybody has some risk of flooding. Virtually every U.S. state and territory has experienced floods. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that 10 million U.S. households are located in high flood risk areas.

If you aren't sure whether your house is at risk from flooding, check with your local floodplain manager, building official, city engineer, or planning and zoning administrator. They can tell you whether you are in a flood hazard area.


Flood Insurance

You can protect your home and its contents through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) administered by FEMA. Flood insurance is available to owners and occupants of insurable property in communities participating in the NFIP.

A flood insurance policy, which you can purchase through your insurance company or agent, is the best way to recover from a flood.

Federal disaster assistance, only available if a flood is declared a Federal disaster, is often a loan you have to repay, with interest, in addition to your mortgage loan.

In contrast, flood insurance claims are paid even if a disaster is not Federally declared.  A flood insurance claim will reimburse you for your covered losses - and never has to be repaid.

Contact your insurance company or agent. He or



she can tell you what your flood risk is and can also provide you with more information about how to obtain Federally backed flood insurance.


For more information about the NFIP and flood insurance, contact your insurance company or agent, or call the NFIP at 1-888-CALL-FLOOD, ext.445.

The Benefits of Flood Insurance

Homeowners, business owners, and renters can all purchase flood insurance, as long as their community participates in the NFIP.

Flood insurance puts you in control: You don’t have to wait in lines or qualify for Federal disaster assistance that you may have to pay back with interest.

Flood insurance claims are paid even if the President does not declare a disaster.

You can buy flood insurance no matter where you live, in high, low or moderate-risk areas, as long as your community participates in the NFIP.

Flood insurance claims are handled quickly so flood victims can recover quickly.

When you file a flood insurance claim, you can request a partial payment immediately so you can start recovering faster.

Flood insurance reimburses you for all covered losses. Homeowners can get up to $250,000 of coverage and businesses up to $500,000.

There is separate contents coverage, so renters can get flood insurance, too.

Maintaining a flood insurance policy is one of the most important things you can do to protect your self and reduce the cost of flooding disasters.

Flood Facts

Did you know that floods are the most common natural disaster?

Did you know that the average premium for an NFIP flood insurance policy is just over $300 a year?

Flood insurance claims are paid by policyholder premiums, not taxpayer dollars.

Flood designations are based on statistical averages, not on the number of years between big floods.

The term "100-year flood" is really a statistical designation, and there is a 1-in-100 chance that a flood this size will happen during any year. Perhaps a better term would be the "1-in-100 chance flood."

Over a 30-year period (typical mortgage period) the 1% annual chance flood has a 26% chance of occurring. This means a home in the mapped flood hazard area is five times more likely to be damaged by flood than to have a major fire!



Using Sandbags for Flood Protection


How Should Sandbags Be Used?

Sandbags can be used to fill gaps in a permanent protection system, to raise an existing levee or to build a complete emergency levee. Sandbags alone, when filled and stacked properly can hold back floodwater, but they are most effective when used with polyethylene (plastic) sheeting. Sand is suggested if readily available, however, it is not mandatory, any local soil may be used. The bags may be burlap or plastic. Plastic bags can be reused; burlap bags tend to rot after use.

How to Fill Sandbags

Fill the bags one-half to two-thirds full. The bag, when filled, should lie fairly flat. Over-filled bags are firm and don't nestle into one another; tight bags make for a leaky sandbag wall. Tying is not necessary


How to Stack Sandbags

Stack sandbags so the seams between bags are staggered. Flip the top of each bag under so the bag is sealed by its own weight. Stamp each sandbag into place, completing each layer prior to starting the next layer. Limit placement to three layers unless a building is used as a backing or sandbags are pyramided.


Short Sandbag Walls

For walls four bags high or less, a simple vertical stack can work. Bolster the wall on the dry side every 5 feet with a cluster of bags or by providing other support. You may use the building to support a short vertical stack. Vertical stacks are used to block doorways also. Caulking weep holes on brick veneer buildings can slow the passage of water into a building, but water will pass through the brick itself unless it has been sealed or the building has been wrapped. Blocking doors and weep holes is not a reliable flood protection method.


Sandbag Levees

Where you need protection from water deeper than 2 feet, the stack of sandbags should look more like a levee.

To incorporate 6-mil plastic sheeting into the stack, first lay the sheet along the ground where the outside edge of the sandbag levee will be. It should be 6 mils or heavier, and three times as wide as the intended height of the levee. As you add bags, bring the sheeting up between them in stair-step fashion.



Be sure you can install the system in the amount of time you have to prepare for a flood.
Sandbags are basically for low-flow protection (up to two feet). Protection from high flow requires a more permanent type of structure.
►Keep the necessary materials on hand (sand, sandbags, a shovel, polyethylene sheeting, and caulking).
►Polyethylene sheeting will improve the performance of any sandbag barrier.
►When trying to close an opening in a brick floodwall, stuff the grooves with caulking. Cotton caulking, like that used in wooden shipbuilding, will be fairly easy to remove after the flood.
►A permanent or temporary floodwall or levee is not a complete protection system. You must take additional steps to prevent back-flow of floodwater through plumbing.
►In cases where sandbag placement is intended to be semi-permanent, durability can be improved by mixing ten (10) parts of sand or soil with one (1) part of cement. The materials can be mixed and placed dry. After all the bags are in place, a light sprinkling of water is desirable.
►Make inspections during rains. This is when trouble occurs. Watch for gullying. Correct problems as soon as possible.
►Even good systems leak; water seeps in underground; rain may fall inside your barrier. Have a pump to remove this water.
►Before each flood season, have a practice run: find the materials; test the pumps.
►If unusual cracks, settling or earth slippage starts, consult a qualified civil engineer or geologist immediately.
►Have an evacuation plan. Decide in advance when you will abandon a flood fight and save your life.



You can add plastic sheeting to the face of a sandbag levee instead of weaving it between the bags (see diagram). In either case, don't stretch the plastic; it should be slack wherever it isn't completely supported by the bags.

Add height to the levee by adding bags to the inside and crown. A bonding trench will help prevent the levee from sliding. When blocking an opening, the plastic sheeting should overlap the permanent structure at least 2 feet on each end. Continue the sandbagging a couple of feet beyond the opening in front of a permanent wall or levee to get a good seal.

Cost & Considerations

Sandbags are inexpensive and are often provided by a community government free of charge. Filling, carrying and stacking them is hard, time-consuming work. When planning a levee, floodwall or other protection system that involves last-minute activity, think about how much time you have to get ready for the water. Some people have two days; some only two hours.

If you plan to rely on sandbags, stockpile sand on your property. It should be relatively free of gravel and covered to protect it from animals and erosion. If you're depending on the community for sand and sandbags, take your own shovel when you go to the distribution site.


Emergency Water and Food Supplies


Emergency Water Supplies
After a disaster, it is possible that water supplies will be temporarily cut off or become contaminated.

Because you must have water to survive, it is important to know how to locate and purify drinking water to make it safe.

Water Sources In the home:

Melt ice cubes.
Hot water tank: Turn off the power that heats it, and let the tank cool. Then place a container underneath and open the drain valve at the bottom of the tank. Don't turn the tank on again until water services are restored.
Toilet tank. The water in the tank (not the bowl) is safe to drink unless chemical treatments have been added.
Water pipes. Release air pressure into the
plumbing system by turning on the highest faucet in the house. Then drain the water from the lowest faucet.

Outside the home
Rain water, spring water, and water from streams, river, lakes, and coiled garden hoses can be used after it is purified.

Storage Needs

Because water is so important to human survival, never ration it. Drink at least 2 quarts per day, as long as supplies last, and look for alternative sources.

Store a 3-day supply of water for each family member. The needs of each person will differ depending upon age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate. A normally active person needs to drink at least 2 quarts of water daily. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need more. Additional water is necessary for food preparation and hygiene. At least 2 gallons per person per day should be stored.

Purifying Water

Water can be purified by boiling or using chemicals. Any water that is obtained from sources outside the home or water that does not appear clear should be sterilized. Non-sterilized water may be contaminated. 

Emergency Food Supplies

Things to Think About

What foods are nonperishable and do not need cooking and refrigeration?

What foods are easily prepared?

What foods are high in calories and protein that will help build energy?

What foods appeal to family members?

What foods are needed to meet the dietary needs of family members such as babies, toddlers, diabetics, and elderly people?


Food Options to Consider

Compressed food bars. They store well, are lightweight, taste good, and are nutritious and high in calories.

Trail mix. Blends of granola, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits are available prepackaged, or assemble your own.

Dried foods. Dried foods are nutritious and satisfying, but they have salt content, which promotes thirst.

Freeze-dried foods. Freeze-dried foods are tasty and lightweight but need water for reconstitution.

Instant meals. Instant meals such as cups of noodles or cups of soup are also a good addition to kits, although they too need water for reconstitution.

Snack-sized canned goods. Snack-sized canned goods are good because they generally have pull-top lids or twist-open keys.

Prepackaged beverages. Beverages packaged in foil packets and foil-lined boxes are suitable for a disaster supplies kits because they are tightly sealed and will keep for a long time.


Emergency Cooking

In an emergency, food can be cooked using a fireplace, or a charcoal grill or camp stove, outdoors only. Food can also be heated with candle warmers, chafing dishes, and fondue pots.

Canned foods can be heated and eaten directly out of the can. Completely remove the lid and label before heating the can to prevent internal combustion or the label catching fire.


FIRST, strain the water through a cloth or paper
filter before beginning the purification process. Boiling water is the preferred method of purification because disease-causing microorganisms cannot survive the intense heat. Bring water to a rolling boil for 10 minutes. Pour the water back and forth from one clean container to another to improve the taste. Adding a pinch of salt could also help.
If boiling is not an option, the alternative is to treat the water chemically. Plain household chlorine bleach may be used. Be sure the label states that hypochlorite is the only active ingredient. Bleach containing soap or fragrances is not acceptable.
With an eyedropper, add 8 drops of bleach per gallon of water (16 if the water is cloudy), stir and let stand.
After 30 minutes the water should taste and smell of chlorine. At this time it can be used.
If the taste and smell (and appearance in the case of cloudy water) has not changed at this point, add another dose and let stand. If after one half hour the water does not have a chlorine smell, do not use it.

Water Storage Containers

Store the water in a clean and sanitary glass or plastic container. Plastic containers are good because they are lightweight and unbreakable.

Metal containers should be considered as a last resort because they may corrode and give water an unpleasant taste.

Water that local officials report has been contaminated with toxic chemicals or radioactive materials cannot be purified using home decontamination methods.

Food Options to Avoid

Commercially dehydrated foods. Commercially dehydrated foods require a great deal of water for reconstitution and require extra effort in preparation. They also are inedible unless they are reconstituted.

Bottled foods. Bottled foods are too heavy and bulky and break easily. Meal-sized commercially canned foods are also bulky and heavy.

Whole grains, beans, and pasta. Preparations of these foods could be complicated under the circumstance of a disaster.

Purchasing Foods

Most of the foods appropriate for a Disaster Supplies Kit are available at local supermarkets. Specialty food stores such as health food stores or food storage supply houses as well as sporting goods stores may have foods prepared especially for this purpose. 


Food Storage Tips

Keep food in the driest and coolest spot in the house - a dark area if possible.

Keep food covered at all times.

Seal cookies and crackers in plastic bags and keep in tight containers.

Open food boxes and cans carefully so that they can be closed tightly after each use.

Store packages susceptible to pests, e.g., opened packages of sugar, dried fruits, and nuts in screw-top jars or airtight cans.

Store wheat, corn, and beans in sealed cans or sealed plastic buckets.

Buy powdered milk in nitrogen -packed cans for long term storage.

Keep salt and vitamins in their original packages.

Inspect all items periodically to make sure there are no broken seals or dented containers.


Emergency Kit List

First aid kit and essential medicines.

Non-electric can opener.
Sanitation supplies.

Keep some cash and a credit card on hand.

Portable radio, flashlights and extra batteries.

Keep important family documents in a waterproof container. Assemble a smaller version of your kit to keep in the trunk of your car.

Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.

An extra pair of eyeglasses.


Other Considerations

Avoid disaster areas; your presence could hamper rescue and other emergency operations, and you may be in danger.

Do not handle live electrical equipment in wet areas. If electrical equipment or appliances have been in contact with water, have them checked before use.

Avoid downed power lines and broken gas lines. Report them immediately to the electric or gas company, police or fire department.

Use flashlights NOT lanterns, matches or candles to examine buildings; flammables may be inside.

Stay tuned to radio or television for information and instructions from local authorities.


Pets & Livestock  Disaster Preparedness



According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 58.9 percent of all U.S households own animals. More than 60 percent of pet owners consider their pets to be very or extremely important to their families. The majority of livestock producers have similar feelings toward their animals.

There are also reports of pet owners being injured or killed attempting to rescue their animals from burning or flooded houses.

Following floods in Snohomish Valley, WA, in 1991, some farmers felt so grief-stricken by the drowning of their cows that they left agriculture altogether.

Following the Oakland, CA, firestorm in 1991, hundreds of cats and dogs were never reunited with their owners because their owners could not be found.

While the care of animals in disasters should never take precedence over the care of people, providing care for animals may facilitate the personal safety and care of a large segment of the human population.

Know what to do in a disaster

If officials evacuate your area, leave immediately.

If you are unable to take animals with you, do not leave them confined. If you have horses and livestock, let them out of the barn and close all the doors. A horse may run back into a burning barn if it gets frightened. Turn off the power and gas and disconnect any electrical fences so that animals will not injure themselves trying to escape. (These recommendations are for livestock, poultry and other types of animals; house pets should be leashed/crated and taken with you.)

Have fire tools handy at your home and in your barn: a ladder, garden hoses, fire extinguishers, gas-operated water pumps, shovels, rakes, and buckets.


If you are evacuating horses when the fire is close, it may help to temporarily place a blindfold over their eyes. Place pieces of cloth around the horses’ nostrils to reduce the inhalation of smoke. Wet the horses' tails and manes and remove blankets on the horses' backs.

Purchase rope or leather halters for horses and livestock because nylon halters can melt when they heat up in a fire. This may lead to deep burn wounds on the animal.

Plan several evacuation routes with your animals in case fires block your escape. If you have horses or livestock, make arrangements ahead of time for a place to temporarily relocate them. Fairgrounds, parks, racetracks, large animal shelters, or with family or friends may be options available to you.

Make sure your trailer is in good condition and keep the gas tank of your car and truck filled. If you do not have enough trailers, identify who else could help you evacuate.

Practice your buddy system, teach your horse how to load into a trailer, and practice your evacuation routes.

Keep your horses' tetanus vaccinations current.

Store adequate amounts of fuel and extra feed before the severe winter weather starts.

Construct barns to withstand typical snow accumulations in your area.

Be prepared for isolation at home, particularly if you live in a rural area. It is highly possible that a severe winter storm could isolate you for one or two weeks.

If possible, insulate any buildings used to house animals. Dog houses should be built to withstand extreme cold - putting straw inside will provide added protection. Under extreme conditions, animals should be housed inside. Avoid leaving animals to rest on hard surfaces (e.g., in garages).




Flood Warnings

Flash Flood Watch Issued when flash flooding is possible within the designated watch area: be alert. Listen to your radio for flood forecasts and prepare for evacuation with your animals.

Flash Flood Warning Issued when a flash flood has been reported or is imminent: take necessary precautions.

Flood Warning Issued as an advance notice that a flood is imminent or is in progress at a certain location or in a certain river basin. Take precautions as directed. Start to relocate large animals that are in danger.


 Water-wise Gardening


Water-wise gardening involves using various landscaping techniques that can you help conserve water by as much as 50% while keeping an attractive yard.


The 10 principles of water-wise gardening.

1. Follow the Land - by watching where rain runs after it falls onto your yard. The contours of your yard can be changed to catch rainwater, allowing it to infiltrate into the ground for use by plants.

2. Care for the Soil - by adding compost or mulch. Compost helps the soil hold water and adds valuable nutrients needed for plant growth. Mulches prevent soil from overheating and drying out, and also helps reduce weeds and slow erosion. Use 2" - 4" underneath plants and shrubs.

3. Gather the Rain - collect rain when it falls and hold it for later use. Rainwater costs nothing and it can be used in your garden during the summer when the ground is dry.

4. Plant Naturally - layer plants to make shade and use native or drought adapted species to reduce water use. Native and drought adapted plants grow well on only natural rainfall, and don't need irrigation.

5. Plant Wisely - only use plants that have been grown in a nursery or that come from collected seeds or cuttings. Never dig up and take wild plants, it's illegal and damages the ecosystem. Leave them in their natural habitat for everyone to enjoy.


6. Water Wisely - give plants only as much water as they need. Group plants together according to their water needs, placing water loving plants together and drought-tolerant plants elsewhere (hydrozoning), then use efficient watering methods such as drip systems and soaker hoses that deliver the water closer to the plants roots. Many plants adapt to dry summers and do not need much water after they are well established. Your garden can be lush and attractive while requiring less water.

7. Tend Patiently - with a sparing hand and keeping in mind that plants will grow larger. Plants use nutrients found naturally in the soil and in the added compost. They do not usually need man-made chemicals to make them grow better.

8. Prune Naturally - try not to force plants to grow into unnatural shapes, it's hard on the plant and it generates more green waste that you will need to compost or shred for mulch. Learn to work with the your plants and prune to achieve amore natural form.

9. Plan Your Garden - a garden can be a natural oasis in an otherwise harsh urban desert. Use your garden to expand your living area into the outdoors. Understand the natural shade and sun of your yard and plan your garden accordingly. Remember: plan the work, then work the plan.

10. Share Your Wisdom - talk to neighbors and other people in your local community. Help people to develop a knowledge and wisdom of the land so that Butte County will continue to be a healthy place to live and work.

Hydrozones & Irrigation  Water only where needed



Hydrozones are an ancient technique that really means nothing more than grouping plants together according to their water (as well as soil, nutrient, pH, etc.) needs. By carefully picking your plants, grouping them together according to their water and other needs and using modern low-flow irrigation techniques, you can drastically reduce the amount of water you use, lower your water bill, save time, and generate less yard waste.  Reducing water waste also helps you get stronger, healthier plants by directly applying water to the root zones of plants, where it's needed and used more efficiently.


The first step to successfully using the hydrozone concept is to look over your yard or garden carefully. Pay particular attention to the natural slope of the area, the soil type(s) present, your general climate zone as well as any microclimate issues in the area, and your existing and planned plant species. In general, you should try to group plants that have the highest water demand (use) together at the highest point in your yard. When you water your yard and garden, the water drains into the soil and subsoil and begins to move down gradient (downhill). If you put the highest water demand plants at the high point of your yard, then any water that drains into the soil and subsoil will move down through your yard, helping water other plants and encouraging deep rooting.


It is critical to Make an accurate, complete plan of your yard or garden. The effort you make during this step will save you considerable time and effort later. If you are planning a new yard or garden, you can control more easily how plants are grouped and arranging so that plants with similar water requirements are grouped together. This will mean that the hydrozone groupings will naturally follow the physical layout of the yard or garden. Revising or remodeling an existing yard or garden can be more challenging to design than new sites.


In each planting area or hydrozone, you will generally select a main, or "base plant." The


base plant is the plant in the hydrozone that requires the smallest amount of water each day. When you plan your irrigation schedule, you will design each hydrozone's general watering system to irrigate the base plant, and then select individual emission devices to meet the water requirements of the remaining plants in the hydrozone that require more water than the base plants. For "worst case" irrigation you should establish water needs based on the hottest, driest day in the summer.


Each hydrozone will have only one base plant. Because the base plant requires the smallest amount of water each day, the irrigation system should be designed to service the base plant. The remaining plants in each hydrozone are "non-base" plants. For each non-base plant in each hydrozone you should carefully determine each plant's water requirements.


Most yard and garden irrigation systems consist of two related subsystems: sprinklers and low-flow emitters. Designing and laying out a low-flow hydrozone irrigation system is very similar to a conventional sprinkler system. The key to these systems is the use of control valves and timers that allow you to adjust the watering schedule with great precision. Generally, it is good practice to place each emitters placed half way between the trunk of the plant and its drip line (the edge of the foliage of the plant.)


During the first one or two months, carefully watch both the base and non-base plants for signs of heat or water stress. It is generally advisable to over-water initially, and then gradually reduce the watering schedule. Adjust the amount of water being given to each plant as necessary to avoid over- or under-watering. After the first month, you should inspect and clean all filters and emitters on a monthly basis.

Also check the individual timers and valves to make sure they're working. If plants show signs of heat or water stress, adjust the system as necessary. A good preventative maintenance practice is to flush the entire irrigation system each spring and fall to flush debris that may accumulate in the piping and valves.

Drip Irrigation  Water only where needed


Efficient watering methods

Trickle irrigation and drip irrigation systems help reduce water use and meet the needs of plants. With these methods, very small amounts of water are supplied to the base of the plants. Since the water is applied directly to the soil, rather than onto the plant, evaporation from leaf surfaces is reduced. The water is also placed where it will do the most good, rather than sprayed over the entire garden.

Installing irrigation systems

An irrigation system can be easy to install. Numerous products are readily available for home use. The simplest system consists of a soaker hose that is laid out around the plants and connected to an outdoor spigot. No installation is required and the hose can be moved as needed to water the entire garden.

The basic elements of a drip or trickle system consist of the head, the tubing, and the emitters.

The head is the part of the system that connects to your water supply. The major components of this may include a pressure regulator, a filter, an anti-siphon valve, and an automatic timer. While this may sound complicated and expensive, it is not. Installation of these components will create a better operating system.

Considerations for the head

1. Many drip systems are designed to be used with low water pressure, under 25 pounds per square inch (psi). Normal city water pressure is about 55 psi.

2. Because of the small size of the openings in the emitters, they can easily become clogged by sediment in the water. A filter should be installed to keep openers operating freely.

3. Consider installing a back flow preventer. This is a valve that prevents the accidental backflow of water in the system getting into the water line. This may be required by city ordinance in some municipalities. Considering the minor cost, it is probably a wise investment for anyone.

4. A timing device can be added to automatically turn the system on and off. This can be as simple as a battery operated attachment or a more permanent timer that is wired into your electrical system.


Plastic tubing is used to get the water from the source to the garden. This comes in many sizes. A variety of fittings are available to go around corners and to connect pieces.

Plastic tubing considerations:

Consider what you intend to water with the drip system. You may need several different systems to best meet the needs of various plants. Not all plants have the same water requirements, and soil conditions in various parts of your yard may vary. Trees, because of their large size and deep root systems, will probably require less frequent but longer watering.

Emitters deliver the small amounts of water to the plants. Depending on the design, emitters can either be attached directly to the pipe or attached to "spaghetti tube," a very small flexible tube that can be placed next to plants or in pots.

Emitters can let water drip out very slowly, or small sprinkler emitters can be installed to provide a spray pattern similar to a lawn sprinkler. Sprinkler emitters may be appropriate for watering groundcover and lawns.

Drippers vary in the amount of water delivered per hour. Some deliver as little as one half gallon of water per hour while others deliver up to 10 gallons per hour. Some emitters are adjustable to deliver different rates of water. Sprinkler emitters also are available in various flow rates as well as with different spray patterns and coverage areas.

While these systems need more planning, they are neither expensive nor difficult to install. In most cases, no special tools or skills are needed.

Plastic pipe is punched with an inexpensive tube punch that assures the proper hole size. Emitters or spaghetti tubes snap into the hole.

No gluing or soldering is required. Because the holes are small, they can easily be plugged if you put one in the wrong place. Some systems come with pre-assembled emitters at regular intervals.

Drip systems require periodic maintenance. You will also need to check emitters to make sure they are working properly as they can become clogged.

Native Plant Species


Why Landscape with Native Plants

Landscaping with native plants has many advantages, including: lower water use (native species, once established, are naturally drought resistant), better adapted to natural soil conditions, better suited to provide natural forage, cover and habitat for native wildlife, and more resistant to natural pests and diseases.

Native plant species have evolved and adapted to local conditions over thousands of years and are usually much more tolerant to the prevailing weather extremes at a given location. They have adapted to survive winter cold and summer heat, periodic drought, wild fires and high winds.

Once established, most species require little or no additional irrigation beyond normal rainfall and because they typically grow more slowly, they generate much less yard waste. Native plant species are also well adapted to local soil conditions, thriving without artificial fertilizers.

Additionally, native plant species are generally more resistant to local pests and diseases, although invader pests and diseases may prove problematic. It is easy to see that native plant species are very well adapted for inclusion in "low-maintenance" gardens and landscapes.

Each native plant species is a member of a community that includes other plants, animals and microorganisms. The natural balance keeps each species in check, allowing it to thrive in conditions to which it has adapted, but preventing it from spreading uncontrolled. Thus, native species rarely become invasive, unlike plants imported from other areas.

Native plants provide food and shelter for birds, butterflies and other desirable wildlife. Many help to stabilize and hold the soil. Their root systems help rainfall percolate into the soil, reducing erosion and runoff and improving downstream water quality. Native plant species often have much deeper


penetrating root systems, which are more effective at holding soil on slopes, often decreasing the possibility of landslides and erosional losses.


Native Plants Are Interesting

The diversity of native plants includes interesting flowers and foliage. Native shrubs and trees such as Manzanita and Valley Oak, provide a variety of heights, shapes and textures in the landscape. Ground covers and low growing shrubs offer a diversity of color and texture which grow well in planting beds and as borders of landscaped areas. In addition, many annual and perennial flowers such as Matalija Poppy, Coral Bells, and Western Columbine offer opportunities for vibrant color while remaining drought tolerant.

Another benefit of native plants is their historical and cultural importance. Many native plant species have played a significant role in Native American culture, or in European exploration and settlement. A number of species have been reported to have value as food or medicine, while others have been used as fiber for textiles and rope or coloring and dye for various domestic purposes. Native plants offer a tangible link to our common heritage, and provide a bridge to our collective futures.
















Invasive Plants


The gardener's battle against weeds is continuous. We use many techniques to control them, yet they still invade our gardens and landscapes.


Plants that become "weedy" are very good competitors, and they move in with ease from nearby vacant lots, fence rows, fields, pastures, woodlands, and even our own or the neighbor's garden. The last source is of special concern.

We can accept native plants that are weedy (they were here first), but what about the plants intentionally grown that become weeds in our gardens and move into the natural plant communities?


Our concept of what a weed is depends on our perspective. Bermuda grass serves as a good example. This is a welcome forage in a southern farm pasture and an excellent lawn and athletic turfgrass in warm areas. On the other hand, if it becomes established in a bluegrass lawn or spreads into a flower border, it suddenly becomes "wiregrass" and in need of rigorous control methods.


Now consider your own perspective if you saw Bermuda grass spreading into a meadow of native grasses and wildflowers. Is it a weed here? Consider further the fact that Bermuda grass was brought to this country from Asia.  It is not a native grass, but is able to compete with and crowd out native plants. This has happened in many areas of the South and Southwest, and is a concern to many individuals involved in conservation efforts.


Most of us pay little attention to these imports as they naturalize in our wild areas, but in many areas they have become serious enough to threaten the stability of the native plant habitats.


Problems with these invasive plants are often the result of a good intention gone wrong. Bermuda grass is valuable when under control, but a terrible weed if it escapes.


Kudzu was introduced from the Orient as an ideal soil stabilizer to protect damaged soils in the South. But this plant can grow 50 feet in a season, smothering every other plant in its path, and is now referred to as the "green cancer" of the South.


Multiflora rose was brought from Japan and promoted for widespread planting as a "living fence" for pastures and an ideal food and shelter source for wildlife. A major control program is now being conducted against this rank-growing bush.


The succulent garden weed, purslane, was brought from Europe as a vegetable greens crop. Ailanthus, or Tree-of-Heaven, another import, is a tree very tolerant of poor soil and urban air, but now is naturalized and a persistent weed.


Other imported ornamental plants gone out of control in parts of the country include Oriental bittersweet, bamboo, morning glory, Scotch broom, bracken fern, foxglove, pampas grass, and Japanese honeysuckle.


As with kudzu and multiflora rose, the problem of escaped plants can develop when only one aspect (for example, the benefits of soil stabilization or wildlife conservation) is considered, and not the entire environmental effect. Plant imports are now much more closely studied to avoid introducing potential problems, but many of the current problems will expand, as invasive plants are carelessly managed.




Control of Yellow Star Thistle


Yellow Star Thistle (YST) is a non-native, aggressive weed that often takes over on poor soils and recently disturbed land. Native to southern Europe, it was introduced by European and Chinese settlers and used primarily for bee-keeping and making honey.

 YST is cumulatively poisonous to horses, annoying to people, and appears to produce natural chemical that inhibits the growth of other plant species. It is classified as one of California's most obnoxious weeds. YST is an indicator species for soils that are in poor condition due to lack of fertilizers, compaction and erosion.

   There are several alternatives currently available for addressing the YST problem:



Mowing can either increase or decrease your YST problem, depending on when and how it is done. It is important to mow at the proper time, and mow correctly.

 The first mowing should take place just after annual grasses are beginning to dry, the seed is shattering, and (very important) THE YST IS IN ITS BUDDING OR EARLY FLOWERING STAGE, AND NO MORE THAN TWO PERCENT OF THE FLOWERS ARE IN BLOOM. If the plant has not started to bud, it is too early. If it has flowered and the flowers have lost their bright yellow color, it is too late. In either case, you risk increasing the amount of YST.

 When mowing set your blade low enough to remove the flowering tops and buds, but not so low that any returning regrowth will be below your lawnmower's cutting depth. A second mowing will be required in four to six weeks. Follow the same mowing procedures as you did during the first mowing. Sometimes, particularly when enough moisture remains in the soil, and temperatures are still hot, a third mowing will be required.

 In following these procedures you will have increased the annual grass seed dispersal and decreased the YST dispersal. Leave the clippings after each mowing. This provides protection for the annual grass seed, organic material for the soil, and shades the YST to reduce growth. 



Zorro annual fescue and perennial ryegrass has been found to inhibit YST growth. Wild Oats has been found to be capable of completely eliminating YST. As a result, the Trinity County Resource District recommends using these grasses to help control YST. In lieu of using wild oats, regular feed or seed oats can be used. The shade provided by the grasses appears to play a major role in inhibiting the growth of YST. Because of this, ranchers and those with large areas that need YST control are advised to sow tall grass species such as oats or wheat after tilling in the Autumn, applying fertilizers as required and watering fields when rains are insufficient.

 Ranchers are also advised to cut and bale fields that have been contaminated with YST as opposed to grazing, and to leave a 5" stubble to shade out YST. It is suggested that the cutting and baling not take place prior to May l5, or when grasses are not yet tall enough to leave a 5" stubble.



Studies have shown that bio-diverse meadows and fields are better able to recover from the effects of disease, fire, drought and other problems. Having at least five different species of plants or more provides the greatest protection.

 For this reason, it is recommended that in non-commercial hay or grass fields a mix of native grass seeds of the type of grasses generally found growing locally be sown. Other native plant seeds such as lupines, buckwheats, etc. should be introduced to increase biodiversity.



 Grazing has been shown to be effective for the control of YST when carried out properly. Horses should not be grazed on YST, however. Grazing should be carried out using intensive grazing management techniques, (high stocking densities and short grazing periods). Grazing should take place during the "bolting stage" of the YST, usually in May through June. Grazing stock should be returned to graze one to three times at about two week intervals. GRAZING SHOULD NOT TAKE PLACE DURING THE EARLIER "ROSETTE STAGE" (the leaf stage prior to budding), AS THIS WILL INCREASE YST.



Where irrigation is available, the site should be irrigated prior to autumn rains to induce early germination. Seedlings should then be disked in. Disk very shallow. Deep tilling or disking will bring buried seeds to surface. When autumn rains do come, newly re-sprouting seedlings should again be disked in, and then the site can be planted with desired grasses.

 Mechanical means can also be used in the spring, but tillage must then be deep because the YST will have formed deep tap roots. This will bring buried seeds to the surface that will result in new germination that must be disked under as well. This may have to be done several times before planting with desired grasses.



Mulching requires a considerable amount of material. Wheat Straw, applied 5" thick over YST, in experiments, resulted in 0% return of YST, and a 10% cover of wheat from seeds in the straw. A 5" mulch is equivalent to 500 bales per acre. A 2.5" mulch, 250 bales, resulted in a 78% reduction in YST. Dependence solely upon heavy mulching to control YST is thus recommended only for relatively small patches or pathways to prevent spreading of YST, or when one has a large volume of mulch to work with. Presumably, mulches of other grasses, or of other organic materials, such as leaves or conifer needles, will provide similar benefits in the reduction of YST.  


Some of the native grasses that do well in Butte County are Blue Wild Rye, Nodding Stipa, Pine Bluegrass, Idaho Fescue, California Broom, Slender Hairgrass and Squirrel Tail.


Yellow Thistle



While total prevention is impossible, some measures can be taken to prevent the spread of YST. Do not drive through fields of YST and then drive through thistle free areas. Examine hay or straw for evidence of YST before using the hay for feed, or the straw for mulch. Avoid disturbing the ground as much as possible. When it is necessary to do so, re-seed the ground with desired species and mulch. Try to avoid soil compaction. Aerate ground that is compacted when possible.




The Natural Approach to Lawn Care


Grass recycling is a simple and natural approach to lawn care. Clippings are left on the lawn after mowing to decompose quickly, releasing valuable nutrients back into the soil. Proper mowing, watering and fertilizing of a lawn result in moderate turf growth, yet still produces a healthy green lawn.

Follow these simple suggestions:

Mowing - Grass recycling can be done with almost any mower, just remove the collection bag so grass clippings drop to the lawn. You should cut your grass when it's dry and free of leaves. Mow often enough so that no more than 1/3 of the length of the grass blade is cut allowing clippings to fall easily through the grass surface. Grass Recycling can help produce a healthy green lawn with moderate turf growth.

Watering - Water your lawn early in the morning so water has time to soak into the soil before the heat of the sun causes evaporation. Sprinklers should be left on long enough to allow water to soak into the ground but not so long to cause runoff. Deep watering allows grass to develop a deep root system, enabling the lawn to resist disease and drought. Over-watering is wasteful and causes your lawn to grow too fast, resulting in more frequent mowing.

Fertilizing - Apply smaller amounts of fertilizer on a regular basis. This is more effective than applying larger amounts less often. Never allow fertilizers or other garden and lawn chemicals to run-off into storm drains or sewers. Also, never dispose of old yard and garden chemicals by dumping them down the storm drains or into the sewer system. Just take them to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event to dispose of them in an environmentally sound manner.



No Mow Lawns - Today it's possible to have a yard that virtually never needs mowing but still looks great. It's called a "No Mow" lawn and several major lawn and garden seed companies have developed a variety of mixes that consist of short flowering and non-flowering plants that hold up well to light to moderate foot traffic and grow densely enough to work well as a grass lawn substitute. Some of the mixes available are drought tolerate, so they will perform well in our climate zones.


Slant Fencing

Landscaping  The Basics


The Basic Steps

Assess your yard or garden space.

The first thing you need to do is identify the habitat elements that already exist in your yard or garden space. You may be surprised to find out you’re already providing some habitat for wildlife!

Native plants that provide food and cover are the backbone of every habitat. Make a list of all the plants in your yard, including everything from trees to wildflowers.

Try to determine which of your plants are native to your area and which are not. Which existing plants might provide food such as seeds, fruits, nuts, and nectar?

Which plants might provide safe cover or nesting places?

Do you have any dead or dying trees? If so, don’t reach for the chainsaw! Dying or dead trees are excellent habitat features. They are excavated and used by woodpeckers, and a multitude of insects and cavity-nesting birds, such as owls, bluebirds, chickadees, and wrens.

Determine how your yard might already provide water for wildlife. This could be in the form of a pond, water garden, stream, vernal pool, or birdbath.

Make a list of any structures that provide habitat elements, such as bird feeders, nesting structures, rock walls, or log piles.

Finally, consider the physical features of your yard such as sun and wind exposure and soil conditions.

Provide the four basic elements.

All species have four basic requirements for survival. These are food, water, cover, and places to raise young.


Restoration of native plant communities to your yard should be the main emphasis of your habitat project. This is especially important since our native plants and wildlife have co-evolved.

Select plants that provide natural foods such as fruits, seeds, nuts, and nectar. Choose your plants to provide food for backyard wildlife throughout the year.

You should also plant deciduous shrubs to offer effective summer cover for nesting and escape from predators. Butterflies almost invariably lay their eggs on the host plant preferred by the caterpillar, so make sure to include some of the host plants in your habitat.

Native perennials and annuals provide nectar for both butterflies and hummingbirds. Hummingbirds tend to visit tube-shaped, red flowers such as bee balm, wild columbine, and our native honeysuckle. Butterflies prefer flat or clustered flowers, such as purple coneflower, phlox, and zinnias.

By choosing native plants suited to the site conditions, little maintenance, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or additional watering will be necessary for the plants to thrive. This all adds up to time and cost savings as well as a healthier habitat for you, your family, and the wildlife that inhabit your yard.

To find out which plants are native to your area, contact your state or local native plant society.

Supplemental feeders can provide nectar for hummingbirds in the summer months and a variety of seed (sunflower, niger, safflower, and millet) for other birds throughout the year. Keep in mind that bird feeders should only be used as a supplement to natural food provided by native plants.

Practice resource backyard conservation.
Conserving resources will not only help the wildlife in your own yard but will help improve your community's environment.

Here are some ideas for practicing resource conservation in your own backyard:

Plant native plants suited to your region and do not plant any invasive exotics (non-native plants).

Establish a backyard wetland or drainage buffer area to filter storm water and limit runoff.

Capture roof rainwater for use in planted areas.

Use mulch to conserve soil moisture and cut down on weeding time.

Use a drip soaker hose instead of a sprinkler if watering is needed to help your plants become established.

Reduce or eliminate your lawn area to cut down on mowing, watering and general maintenance.



Rock, log, and mulch piles also offer good cover. Small Mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and a great variety of insects and other small animals find homes in these structures, which are easily constructed.


When choosing your plants, make sure to include at least one good clump of evergreen trees and shrubs to provide year-round protective cover from weather and predators. Good choices are juniper, hollies, and live oaks, as they provide food as well as cover.

Eliminate chemical use in your yard. Control pests by organic means. Better yet, let nature take its course and encourage beneficial insects (e.g., ladybug, praying mantis), birds, bats and other insect eaters.


Wildlife needs water, for drinking, bathing, and in some cases, breeding.

Water can be supplied in a birdbath, a small pond, a recirculating waterfall, or a shallow dish. If you’re lucky enough to have a natural pond, stream, vernal pool, or other wetland on your property, make sure to preserve or restore it, as these are excellent aquatic habitats.

A small pond set into the ground provides water for drinking and bathing, as well as cover and reproductive areas for small fish, insects, amphibians, and reptiles.

However you decide to provide water, make sure you do so year round. This can easily be done with a thermostatically controlled bird bath heater to provide water during subfreezing weather when the need for water is critical.

Places to Raise Young

Evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs provide nesting areas for birds. Dead and dying trees (called "snags") provide nesting sites for many species such as owls, flying squirrels, and other cavity-nesters. Rabbits, shrews, mice, snakes, and salamanders lay their eggs or raise young under boughs of plants as well as in the rock, log, or mulch piles.

Nest boxes for bluebirds, chickadees, wrens, and purple martins can be placed in your backyard.

Aquatic animals, such as frogs, toads, newts, dragonflies, and other insects, deposit their eggs in ponds, vernal pools, and other wetlands.

Butterflies require "host" plants that serve as food.


Bird Feeders






 Landscaping  Tree Planting


Tree Planting

Choosing a tree

Choose a tree that will provide enjoyment for you and that fits your landscape. Take advantage of the abundant references on gardening in local libraries, at universities, arboretums, and parks where trees are identified, and from native plant and gardening clubs, and nurseries. Before you buy, you can find out if a tree is appropriate for your area, how big it will get, how long it will live, its leaf color in the fall, any nuts or fruit it may bear, and the proper planting instructions and care for that species.

Make a conscious effort to select trees native to your area. They will live longer, be more tolerant of local weather and soil conditions, enhance natural biodiversity in your neighbor-hood, and be more beneficial to wildlife than non-native trees. Avoid exotic trees that can invade other areas, crowd out native plants, and harm natural ecosystems.

Plant a variety of tree species. For wildlife, choose trees and shrubs that bloom and bear fruit or nuts at different times of the year.

Trees in your backyard can be home to many different types of wildlife. Trees also can reduce your heating and cooling costs, help clean the air, add beauty and color, provide shelter from the wind and the sun, and add value to your home.

Planting a tree

A properly planted and maintained tree will grow much faster and live much longer than one this is incorrectly planted. Trees can be planted almost any time of the year as long as the soil is not frozen. However, early fall is the optimum time to plant trees. The roots grow some during the first fall and winter and when spring arrives the tree is ready to grow. Your second choice for planting is late winter or early spring. Hot summer weather is hard on newly planted trees and planting in frozen soil during the winter is difficult and tough on tree roots.


Dig a hole twice as wide as, and slightly shallower than, the root ball. Roughen the sides and bottom of the hole with a pick or shovel so that roots can penetrate the soil.

With a potted tree, gently remove the tree from the container. Lay the tree on its side with the container end near the planting hole. Hit the bottom and sides of the container until the root ball is loosened. With trees wrapped in plastic or burlap, remove the string or wire that holds the wrapping to the root crown. Remove the wrapping if it is plastic; burlap may be left in place.

Gently separate circling roots on the root ball. Shorten exceptionally long roots, and guide the shortened roots downward and outward. Root tips die quickly when exposed to light and air, so don’t waste time.

Place the root ball in the hole. Leave the tope of the root ball (where the root ends and the trunk begins) ½ to 1 inch above the surrounding soil, making sure not to cover it unless roots are exposed. As you add soil to fill in around the tree, lightly tamp the soil to collapse air pockets, or add water to help settle the soil.

Form a temporary water basin around the base of the tree to encourage water penetration, and water thoroughly after planting. A tree with a dry root ball cannot absorb water; if the root ball is extremely dry, allow water to trickle into the soil by placing the hose at the trunk of the tree.


Early maintenance

For the first year or two, especially after a week or so of especially hot or dry weather, watch your trees closely for signs of moisture stress. If you see leaf wilting or hard-caked soil, water the trees well and slowly enough so the water soaks in rather than runs off. This will encourage deep root growth. Keep the area under the trees mulched and fee of other plants. Until the trees are deeply rooted, grasses and other plants may take up moisture before the trees can get their share.


Tree/Shrub Pruning



► Improve the intended function of the plant.

► Improve the appearance of trees or shrubs.

► Improve the quality of the wood product.

► Reduce a safety hazard.


The timing of pruning should consider the nesting and breeding requirements of arboreal species.

In urban areas special considerations need to be given for safety hazards when growth resumes.

All cuts should be vertical. This will allow the tree to heal quickly without the use of sealants.

Major pruning should be done in late winter or early spring. At this time the tree is more likely to "bleed" as sap is rising through the plant. This is actually healthy and will help prevent invasion by many disease organisms. Heavy pruning in the late summer or fall may reduce the tree’s winter hardiness.

Removal of large branches can be hazardous. If in doubt about your ability to prune properly, contact a professional with the proper equipment.


Pruning Pine, Spruce and Hemlock



Prune trees according to the following steps:

Locate the branch bark ridge.

Find A (outside edge of branch bark ridge).

Find B (swelling where branch meets branch collar). If B is difficult to determine drop a line from A: the angle XAB is equal to the angle XAC (see figure 1).  Stub the branch to be pruned using a first cut from below and a second cut from above.

Make the final cut on line AB.

►Do not cut behind the branch bark ridge.

►Do not leave stubs.

►Do not cut into the branch collar.

►Timing of shearing, branch removal and corrective pruning of high value tree species will be described to accomplish the intended purpose.


Tree Planting





What Is It and What's It To You?

Q. Is compost a peat?

A. No. Peat is harvested from bogs and dried; it is formed over long periods of time by the decomposition of plant materials into a carbonaceous form. Peat is a non-renewable, limited resource material, used mainly by the nursery industry as a soilless potting medium.

MATURE COMPOST is used in place of peat. It gives plants an advantage in increased nutrients and water availability, and reduced disease pressures.

Q. Is compost a mulch?

A. No and Yes. Mulch can be either an inorganic or organic ground cover. Mulch can be pebbles, straw, shredded paper, bark, wood-chips, plastic, etc., that helps to retain moisture. Compost can be used as a high quality mulch, especially around new transplants. MATURE COMPOST can be used as mulch. Its slow release of nutrients to the soil gives transplants increased protection and nutrients, and water availability near the roots.

Q. Is compost a soil?

A. No. Soil is the uppermost layer of the earth. Soils are composed of various proportions of sand, silt, clay, and small amounts of organic matter. MATURE COMPOST is a complex organic material that has been transformed into a stable humus by microorganisms.

Q.  Is compost a chemical fertilizer?

A. No. Chemical fertilizers are inorganic compounds, composed of specific proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (and sometimes other nutrients), that are soluble and readily plant-available. Commercial fertilizer contains no organic matter. MATURE COMPOST is, in part, an organic mixture of plant nutrients that are released slowly at a rate that is compatible with uptake by plant roots.



Benefits of Mature Compost

Soil/Plant Improvements

·         Improves soil structure.

·         Improves nutrient holding capacity.

·         Reduces soil compaction and crusting.

·         Reduces fertilizer requirements.

·         Increases ease of cultivation.

·         Improves root growth and yields.

·         Improves water infiltration and drought tolerance.

·         Protects plants from disease.

·         Increases microbial and earthworm populations.


Pollution Prevention/Remediation

·    Prevents erosion of embankments, roadsides, and hillsides.

·      Binds heavy metals in contaminated soils.

·       Degrades many pesticides.

·      Absorbs odors and degrades volatile organic compounds.

·        Diverts organics from landfills into compost, reducing waste burden and methane production.



Q. Is compost a manure?

A.    No. Manure is animal waste often mixed with bedding or sludge, and containing nutrients, weed seeds, and potential disease organisms.  Raw or partially processed manure is not stable and can release nutrients (e.g. nitrogen, phosphorus) at less predictable rates than compost. MATURE COMPOST can be produced from manure feedstocks and combined with bedding, leaves, chips, or other carbon bulking agents. Proper composting destroys weed seeds and potential disease organisms.

Q.    Then what is compost and how is it made?

A. MATURE COMPOST is a stable humus material created by combining organic wastes (e.g., yard trimmings, food wastes, manure) in proper ratios into piles, rows, or vessels; controlling temperature, moisture and oxygen to achieve accelerated decomposition; and adding bulking agents (e.g., wood chips), as necessary, to provide air space; allowing the finished material to fully stabilize and mature through a curing period.

Decomposition is performed by naturally occurring microorganisms (e.g. bacteria, fungi) that utilize the organic materials for their food and energy sources. Proper primary composting involves temperatures from 110-150°F, moisture content of 50-60%, and adequate oxygen for the microbes. It is complete when pile temperatures decline and remain below approximately 105°F. A subsequent curing period of 2-6 months is required for the compost to mature, after which it will not overheat or produce unpleasant odors during storage, and can be beneficially used.

Q.    Whose friend is compost?

MATURE COMPOST is the farmer's, gardener's, homeowner's, landscaper's, and nursery operator's best friend. Compost provides multiple benefits as a soil amendment, potting mix supplement, and mulch. 












Compost Containers









Mulching is a practice adaptable to nearly all home gardens. To mulch is simply to cover the soil around plants with a protective material, organic or inorganic.

Using a mulch can help you and your garden in many ways. Mulches reduce weed growth by making conditions unfavorable for germination of weed seeds and by providing a physical barrier for emerging weeds. A good mulch layer can save many hours of laborious weeding. Black plastic and thick layers of newspaper are often better mulches for controlling perennial weeds.

Mulches are very useful for maintaining uniform moisture conditions in the garden. Water loss through evaporation is decreased, and soil erosion is decreased as the impact of a heavy rainfall is reduced by the layer of mulch. This allows a slow, steady water infiltration rather than the puddling and subsequent crusting which often occur with a heavy rain. Mulch also reduces splashing of soil onto the fruit, leaving fruits cleaner and helping to prevent the spread of disease.

Soil temperatures are modified by mulches to various degrees. Plastic mulches will warm the soil more quickly in the spring, increasing early plant development. Organic mulches act as insulation, helping keep soil temperatures cooler and, therefore, should be applied later in the season.

Organic mulches add nutrients and humus to the soil as they decompose, improving its tilth and moisture holding capacity. Most organic mulches should be applied after plants are well established (4 to 6 inches tall). Cultivate out all weeds before spreading the mulch evenly over the bare soil between the plants. Apply organic mulches when there is reasonably good soil moisture and before the weather turns hot. Infiltration of rainwater will be slowed somewhat by a mulch, so it is best not to place the mulch over soil that is dry. Water thoroughly or wait for a good soaking rainfall before applying any mulch.

Inorganic mulches, such as plastic films and paper, are applied prior to planting. Black plastic and similar materials should be spread on land that has been completely prepared for planting and has a high moisture level. 



A layer of leaves, 2 to 3 inches thick after compaction, provides good annual weed control. Leaves will decompose fairly quickly, are usually easy to obtain, attractive as mulch, and will improve the soil once decomposed.



Most compost, however, provides a good site for weed seeds to grow. It is probably better used by incorporating it into the soil since it is an excellent soil amendment. A layer of compost may be used on overwintering beds of perennials, such as asparagus or berries, to provide nutrients and help protect crowns. A 2- to 3-inch layer of compost is a fair weed control.



Using 2 to 4 layers of newspaper provides good weed control. It decomposes within a season and is readily available and cheap. Cover with an organic mulch, such as sawdust or hay, to hold paper in place. Excellent for use in pathways and around newly set strawberry plants. Lead in printers' ink has been a concern of some gardeners desiring to use newspaper; however, printers no longer use lead compounds in ink for black and white newsprint, though colored inks may contain lead.


Inorganic Mulches

Gravel, stone, and sand A 1-inch layer of rock will provide fair weed control. Rocks, of course, do not decompose as the organic matter does, so they make a good mulch for permanent plantings, as around foundation plants, and in alpine gardens.


Black plastic

One layer of black plastic provides excellent weed control. It is relatively slow to decompose, but will be somewhat broken down by sunlight and must be replaced every two years at least. Black plastic mulch will increase the soil temperature by about 8F in the spring.




Place the mulch over the row to be planted, then bury the edge to prevent it from blowing away. Cut slits for seeding or setting transplants. A few additional slits can be made to allow water to infiltrate.


Organic Mulches


A 2-inch layer of sawdust provides good weed control. If applied around growing plants, add 1/2 pound of actual nitrogen per 10 cubic feet of sawdust to prevent nutrient deficiencies. Fresh sawdust contains a great deal of carbon and very little nitrogen, and its breakdown requires that microorganisms take nitrogen from the soil. Sawdust is best used for garden paths and around permanent plantings.


Bark and wood chips

A 2- to 3-inch layer of bark provides good weed control. Bark is slow to decompose and will stay in place. Shredded bark decomposes more quickly than chips.


Hay or straw

A 6- to 8-inch layer of hay or straw provides good annual weed control. These materials decompose quickly and must be replenished to keep down weeds. They stay in place and will improve the soil as they decay. Avoid hay that is full of weed seed and brambles. Fresh legume hay, such as alfalfa, supplies nitrogen as it quickly breaks down.


Pine needles

Baled pine needles are also found in garden centers for use as a mulch. They make an excellent mulch around shrubs, trees, and in other areas where a long-lasting mulch is desired.


Grass clippings

A 2-inch layer of grass clippings provides good weed control. Build up the layer gradually, using dry grass. A thick layer of green grass will give off excessive heat and foul odors rather than decompose as other organic material.


Clear plastic

One layer of clear plastic will provide little weed control; in fact, it makes an excellent environment for growing weeds. This material is most often used to warm the soil temperature early in the spring to prepare an area for planting. It will raise the soil temperature by 10F or more.


Aluminum coated plastic and foil

One layer of either of these materials provides excellent weed control. Decomposition is very slow.

Soil temperatures are decreased by up to 10F. They provide additional reflection of light to help speed up fruiting of such vegetables as peppers and eggplant in not-so-sunny gardens. The reflective quality of aluminum foil has been shown in university tests to inhibit the colonization of plants by aphids.















Pasture Management


Pasture Management

Good pasture management results in better weed control, improves and protects the soil, increases forage production, extends the life of pastures, and encourages better animal health. It helps the soil absorb excess water, manure, nutrients, and pollutants, and protects local water quality by reducing the amount of runoff.


Grazing Management

Pasturing too many animals on a parcel of land or allowing them to graze for too long in the same area compacts soils, which reduce absorption capacity and crop recovery. Overgrazing is the main reason for pasture decline, and is a common problem on small farms.


Respect the livestock carry capacity of your farm. The maximum number of animals on your farm should not exceed the capacity of the pastures to re-grow during the drier-growing season. Specific guidelines for carrying capacity or stocking rate for your soil are available through your Soil and Water Conservation District or the Extension Service.

Provide a minimum area of 1.5 acres per cow/calf pair or 2 acres per horse.

Allow grasses to recover before the autumn frosts. Strong healthy plants, and encouraging seasonal dormancy are the best means of reducing pasture winterkill.


Pasture Maintenance

Pastures can be grazed intensively during peak periods of growth, but need to receive regular attention. They require an annual rest period for root systems to recover and absorb nutrients.

Clip pastures in late May or early June, before weed heads have a chance to form. Clipping prior to a rest period will promote more uniform growth. Use prescribed amounts of lime and fertilizer.

Drag pastures to break up and distribute manure evenly and promote uniform grazing. Harrowing prior to the rest period will increase the absorption of nutrients.

The ideal time to irrigate is during the re-growth period, following grazing, dragging, and fertilizing.


Restrict animal access to rivers, seasonal creeks, marshy areas, and ponds. Riparian zone protection is important to maintain water quality. Provide an alternative water source. Maintain pasture fencing to keep animals away from surface waters and wetland areas.

Maintain a vegetated buffered area adjacent to surface waters. Buffer strips provide filtration and absorption of pollutants, help stabilize streambanks, and are an import part of proper pasture management.

Place salt licks and supplemental feeding stations away from water supplies to encourage even grazing.

Plan to feed livestock hay when pasture runs out or when soils are saturated. This saves money in the long run by protection the pasture plants.


Pasture Rotation

Rest periods are critical to proper pasture growth. A grazing rotation that allows foliage 21 to 28 days of re-growth between grazing periods is usually best.

Cross-fence pastures and rotate livestock to increase pasture growth and utilization. Rotate animals from one pasture to the next when grazed down to 4 inches. Return animals to the grazed pasture when forage is at least 8 inches high.


Winter Grazing Management

Restrict pastures use by animals when plants are dormant.

Create a sacrifice area for use in the winter season. The area should be on higher ground and well away from streams. It keeps animals from destroying pastures and confines waste to an area so this it can be managed properly.

Restrict animals when soils are wet. Pastures cannot survive continuous grazing and trampling in winter when they are saturated with water.

Pasture Renovation

Certain forage plants, such as tall fescue and orchard grass, will take two years to produce at their maximum rate, but once established they can continue to produce for at least 10 years.

Ideal pasture renovation entails plowing and growing an alternate annual crop, such as corn, oats, or annual rye grass.



Creating Brush Piles



All animals need dense cover throughout the year for various reasons: concealment and protection from predators, protection from severe weather, and for resting or loafing cover. In areas where dense tangles of brush and vines are absent or limited, artificial brush piles can be constructed to provide much needed cover for ground nesting birds, rabbits, songbirds, and other small animals.


Brush piles should be constructed along forest edges and in openings, field corners, or along the margins of streams and marshes. Brush piles should be situated near grassy areas or cultivated lands so that food and nesting habitat can easily be found near the protective cover of the brush piles.


In open areas where cover is lacking, three to four brush piles per acre should be constructed. Along woodland borders, one brush pile every 200 to 300 feet will provide adequate cover as well as travel lanes to other areas.


Brush piles should be built in conjunction with land clearing or forest thinning operations. The materials used for the brush pile will depend upon what is locally available. Rot-resistant trees, such as oak and locust, make durable bases for the brush piles as do old lumber or timbers you might have lying around. The base of the brush pile should be formed by placing alternate layers of logs at right angles to one another. The logs used should be at least six inches in diameter and spaced six to ten inches apart in each layer.





To increase the durability of the brush pile, the base layers may be stacked on top of stones, tires, cinder blocks, or around large stumps. It is important to remember that the base will act to keep pathways open under the pile once the brush is placed on top.


To enhance these pathways, you might want to place old sections of drainage tile in the base or cut holes in old tires to create dens for small mammals. Smaller trees and brush should be piled on top of the base until a mound or teepee-shaped brush pile is created. Any brush may be used as filling on the piles; hardwood treetops will last longer, but evergreens (such as discarded Christmas trees) can provide excellent short-term cover. Finished piles should be four to eight feet tall and 10 to 20 feet in diameter. If you choose to build a rectangular-shaped brush pile, it should be a least 10 to 15 feet wide and at least 25+ feet long.


Remember, build the brush piles dense enough in the center to provide adequate shelter from adverse weather and predators but loose enough around the edges to allow for easy access. Strict attention should be given to the size of the brush piles built. The tendency is to make brush piles too small. If a person can kick a brush pile over, or a dog can burrow through it, it is too small.




  Burning Brush Piles



Listed below are the four key areas where you can modify your practices to reduce air pollution emissions and minimize your smoke’s impact on air quality.


1.      Avoidance - Don't burn when smoke will not disperse well or will be carried toward smoke sensitive areas. These are populated areas, an airport, road or highway, or any place where smoke can adversely affect visibility or the public’s health, safety and welfare.

2.      Dilution - Reduce smoke concentration by staggering ignitions and/or burning when there is good lift and dispersion. Burn some areas at different times of the year, in addition to those burn seasons traditionally chosen. Cover piles with waterproof kraft paper when they are dry and burn them when the area is wet or snow-covered.

3.      Emission Reduction - Reduce the amount of pollutants emitted by burning only the parts of the site needing it, by reducing the fuel loading (remove some items prior to burning), or by lowering fuel consumption (burn when some fuels are too wet to ignite). Lower emissions by maximizing the flaming phase during your burn. Use alternatives to burning, such as chipping, soil incorporation, and whole tree logging, especially near urban areas.

4.      Schedule Restriction - Honor periods of no burning, such as overnight, weekend, and especially holidays. In some areas, protecting good visibility may be an important public relations goal during some times of the year.


Don't try to burn stumps, they only smolder.
Do not burn tires or pour fuel oil on a pile.

Use an Approved Ignition Device that does not produce black smoke, such as a butane or propane flame-thrower or a fuel oil drip torch.  Ask your air district or permitting agency what is approved in your area.
Avoid burning after dark. Air temperature normally decreases with height above ground level, allowing heated air and smoke to rise.
Develop good communication habits: Keep the public, your neighbors, and your local regulating agencies informed about your intentions to burn, so the burn won't be an unwelcome surprise.


Some fuel pieces will be drier than others when you burn. Smaller pieces dry out more quickly, depending on their size, shape, and distance from the soil surface. Schedule burning when your "targeted" fuel sizes are driest.


POOR Smoke Dispersion Likely
High Pressure Area - Atmosphere Stable

Clear Skies, or Layered, Flat Clouds

Weak or No Winds, Hazy Conditions

Temperature Inversion, Shallow Mixing Layer


GOOD Smoke Dispersion
Low Pressure Area - Unstable

Tall, Puffy Cumulus Clouds

Strong, Gusty Winds, Good Visibility

Good Lift and Deep Mixing Layer


Pile Igniting Techniques
Pile fuels loosely and allow ample air spaces. Ignite many spots around the base of the pile.
Don't make the pile too large, include only what will burn before dark.
Don't leave your fire unattended: It may escape, or smolder and emit more smoke once the finer fuels burn and the fire temperature drops. Reform the pile to promote flaming when burning is partially completed.

Violating California Law Can Be Very Costly!

Violating burning regulations can be very expensive! Penalty fees for not complying with air pollution regulations can be as much as $50,000 per day. You may have to reimburse the fire protection agency for any wildfire suppression costs (which often exceed $50,000 per hour), not to mention paying your neighbors for any valuable property your fire consumes. Obtain all the permits and information you need to protect yourself, your neighbors, and your community!

Regulations of agencies other than the air district may apply to your operation as well. Remember, the benefit of keeping your burns within legal limits is not simply avoiding penalties, but also being a good neighbor, and helping to provide a more healthful environment for everyone.



Backyard Wildlife Habitat  Attracting wildlife to your yard


Bird houses

Choose a location that birds will find appealing and secure, usually away from the bustle human activity. Make or buy a birdhouse specifically designed for the species of bird you want to attract. The size of the hole is most critical to prevent the eggs and young from being destroyed by larger birds; always check a list of appropriate hole sizes.


Attracting bees to your yard

In the United States, there are nearly 5,000 different species of native bees- almost all of them solitary, friendly bees that nest in holes in the ground or burrows in twigs and dead tree limbs. These bees don’t have hives to protect so they are not aggressive and rarely sting. Bumblebees, carpenter bees, sweat bees, leafcutter bees, digger bees, and others pollinate many different kinds of plants, and play a critical role in healthy wild plant communities and gardens. Some 30 percent of our diet is the direct result of a pollinating visit


Additional food and shelter for birds

You can provide additional food and shelter for birds and other wildlife by building or purchasing feeders and houses and by setting out certain foods. Watching birds feeding can be an enjoyable pastime. Find out which birds spend the winter in or migrate through your area, and provide food for them. Check to see which birds are most common and which are rare or in special need of food and shelter. Many species of birds can be attracted by a variety of feed in different styles of feeders. Be sure to put feeders out of reach of predators.


Dead, dying, and hollow trees and logs

Many people are not aware of the value of dead, dying, and hollow trees, as well as logs on the ground, for wildlife. Dead trees provide homes to over 400 species of birds, mammals, and amphibians. Fish, plants, and fungi also benefit from dead and dying trees. Consider leaving standing dead and dying trees in your yard unless they pose a human safety or property hazard, and use downed woody materials in gardens and landscaping.

Attracting bats to your yard

Bats can be beneficial and interesting mammalian species in your neighborhood. Bats are among the most important consumers of night-flying insects, including mosquitoes, moths, and beetles. For example, a single little brown bat can catch more than 600 mosquitoes in an hour.

Watching bats fly around light posts catching bugs can be an interesting nighttime activity.

To help attract bats and provide them with much-needed roosting habitat, you may want to consider putting a bat house in your yard. The houses should be placed on poles or buildings at least 15 feet high in a spot that receives 6 or more hours of sun per day. Tree trunks are usually too shady for bat boxes. Some species, such as red bats and hoary bats, will use foliage of shrubs and trees, while others, such as evening and Indiana bats, will roost under loose bark or in cavities.

As with all wildlife, bats should be watched but not handled or chased. Bats are generally shy of humans, and rarely "attack" or fly after a person, but if caught or picked up from the ground, a bat may bite in self-defense. Bats should not be handled.


Attracting bees to your yard

Providing bee habitat in your yard can increase the quality and quantity of your fruit and vegetable harvests. Bees are attracted to most flowering plants, and are especially fond of blue and yellow flowers. Try planting your garden to have different species blooming in the spring, summer, and fall.


Feeding the Wildlife  Common Food for Wildlife


Sugar water (1 part sugar to 4 parts water) in a feeder. Every 3-4 days, wash feeder with soap and water, rinse thoroughly, and add new sugar water.


Titmouse, nuthatch, chickadee, and many others

Black oil sunflower seeds


Goldfinch, pine siskin

Thistle seed


Woodpecker, wren

Plain suet in a suet feeder


Plants for bees


Bee balm

Black-eyed Susan

Cardinal flower

Clover and other legumes


Crape myrtle







Bees are attracted to most flowering plants, and are especially fond of blue and yellow flowers. Try planting your garden so you have different species blooming in the spring, summering and falling


Pine Cone Birdfeeder

Ø      a large pinecone

Ø      about 2 feet of thin, stiff wire

Ø      peanut butter

Ø      corn meal

Ø      suet (optional)

Ø      bird seed (optional)

Run the thin wire through the top of the pinecone and secure it well (string can be used unless you have squirrels; they can lift the pinecone with the string).

"Magic Mix" - Mix peanut butter and corn meal to a consistency that is barely sticky, but not crumbly. You can add a small amount of suet during cool weather when it will stay fairly hard. Experiment with the amounts of ingredients, but the idea is to reduce the amount of (expensive!) peanut butter yet leave the mixture gooey enough to stick to the cone. Birdseed can also be added to the mixture but is not necessary. Press the mixture well into the "shelves" of the cone, filling it as full as possible.

Fasten the cone to a tree branch or clothesline so that it hangs 1 to 1-1/2 feet down from the branch and away from the trunk or pole. Then wait for chickadees and other small birds to find your treasure! (Larger birds like blue jays and grackles will be too heavy for the feeder.)

If you don't have pinecones, you can purchase a small amount of 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth (the small mesh keeps large beaks out). Make a cylinder of the cloth about 6 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. This can be fastened at the bottom with small nails to an existing bird feeder, or you can put a bottom on the cylinder (a board or a piece of hardware cloth will do) and hang it as you would the pinecone. If desired, cover the cylinder with a small pie pan and fasten it down. Fill the cylinder about 2/3 of the way with the "Magic Mix."


Responsible Dog Ownership


Dogs are not furry people

As silly as this sounds, "dogs are not furry people" is a profound insight. Owners need to understand that dogs do not stay home because they know they are supposed to, because they have a conscience, or because they fear punishment. They stay home because it's more fun than a jaunt around the neighborhood and because they can't get out. Whenever temptation beckons, most dogs will leave if given half a chance.

A dog does not have human thought processes or a moral code. Those who say that their dog knows his boundaries and never leaves the yard are closing their eyes to the certainty that a dog will act like a dog and chase a squirrel, another dog or will dig in the new petunia bed next door.

Dogs are indisputably descended from wolves, and recent research categorizes them as a subspecies of Canis lupus rather than a separate species. When wolves and man first became working partners thousands of years ago, humans selected certain wolf behaviors to accentuate when they began to develop breed types for certain purposes.


Your Dog's Drives

Knowing your dog's basic drives can help you to control your animal. The four drives of dogs include prey, pack, fight, and flight reactions.


The Prey drive includes those behaviors that highlight hunting and foraging behaviors. Dogs that hunt and kill their toys, and chase anything that moves, are probably high in prey drive.

The Pack drive involves a dog's affinity for humans or other dogs. A dog with a high pack drive cannot get enough of people; he barks or cries when left alone, and loves the sound of his master's voice.

The Fight drive is defensive and indicates a dog's self-confidence in stressful situations. A dog with a strong fight-defense drive stands his ground, walks high on his toes, and seems ready to fight.

The Flight drive is also a defense drive and indicates a dog's lack of self-confidence. A dog with high flight drive is unsure in new situations and is stressed when separated from his owner.


Responsible dog ownership includes keeping the pet at home. Butte County has leash laws that require dogs to be under control at all times. Failure to confine the dog can result in a citation and a hefty fine. But more important than the law is the need to maintain a good neighbor policy and to protect the dog from injury.

Free roaming dogs and dog packs can cause major damage to life and property. Horrible stories of small game and livestock mutilation by roaming packs of dogs are true. When dogs form a pack, all of the canine drives are intensified. Since many of the dogs in the pack are being fed elsewhere, the pack usually kill livestock or small game for the fun of it.

There are a wide variety of ways to confine a dog. Each has good points and bad. No system is perfect, but if you have a dog, choose one in spite of its shortcomings. Your neighbors will thank you, and your dog will lead a healthier, happier life.


The old adage "Good fences make good neighbors" is especially applicable when the neighbors own dogs. There are many fencing systems available.
Emphasize length; a dog run 10 feet wide and as long as possible in your yard allows the dog to run up and down and exercise nicely.

Don't worry about dogs jumping over or digging under fences. Puppies raised with a particular fence, even a low one, will likely grow up with a respect for that fence and won't try to escape even when full grown. If the fence isn't high enough, consider installing an angled steel extension for the top of the fence. String the arms with plain wire or fence fabric instead of barbed wire, and the dog can't jump or climb out. To prevent digging under, bury the bottom of the fence several inches in the ground or fill along the perimeter of the fence with concrete. If the dog digs holes along an established fence, fill the holes with concrete or patio blocks.

What you can do

Keep only as many pet dogs as you can feed and care for.

Keep your dogs controlled at all times, especially during the night.

Eliminate sources of food, such as garbage or outdoor pet food dishes, that attract stray dogs.

Protecting Wildlife from Domestic Cats


The Impact of Domestic Cats on Wildlife

Domestic cats, introduced and unnatural predators in North America, can have a devastating impact on the survival of native wildlife, even in urban areas. Contrary to popular belief, well-fed domestic cats are not less prone to hunting than cats who depend on hunting for food. In fact, many well-fed cats are avid hunters who can afford to patiently hunt more difficult prey, like birds.

The estimated numbers of pet cats in urban and rural regions of the United States have grown from 30 million in 1970 to 60 million in 1990. These estimates are based on U.S. Census data and include only those cats that people claim to "own" as pets, not cats that are semi-wild or free-ranging. Nationwide, approximately 30% of households have cats. In rural areas where free-ranging cats are usually not regarded as pets, approximately 60% of households have cats. The combined total of pets and free-ranging cats in the U.S. is probably more than 100 million. Because of their close association with humans, most of these cats are concentrated in areas where people live rather than in remote undeveloped areas.

An estimated 4.4 million songbirds are killed daily by domestic cats in the United States according to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association, "a death toll that may be contributing to declines in some rare species".

Not only do cats prey on many small mammals and birds, but they can outnumber and compete with native predators. Domestic cats eat many of the same animals that native predators do. When present in large numbers, cats can reduce the availability of prey for native predators, such as hawks and weasels.


What you can do

Keep only as many pet cats as you can feed and care for.

Bells are mostly ineffective in preventing predation because, even if the bell rings, it's usually too late for the prey being stalked. Declawing may reduce hunting success, but many declawed cats are still effective predators.

On farms, keep only the minimum number of free-ranging cats needed to control rodents. Well-fed, neutered females will stay closest to farm buildings and do most of their killing where rodent control is needed most. Traps and

rodenticides, as well as rodent-proof storage and construction, will usually contribute more to effective rodent control than cats.

Neuter your cats or prevent them from breeding, and encourage others to do so.

Locate bird feeders in sites that do not provide cover for cats to wait in ambush for birds.

Don't dispose of unwanted cats by releasing them in rural areas.

Don't feed stray cats. Eliminate sources of food, such as garbage or outdoor pet food dishes, that attract stray cats.

If at all possible, for the sake of your cat and local wildlife, keep your cat indoors. Cats are like any other animal - they don't like to have their routine altered! Try easing your cat into it by gradually increasing his time indoors, keeping him in while you are away (so his efforts to get out don't annoy you), and letting him out only when you are going to be able to keep an eye on him.

Despite arguments to the contrary, indoor cats, even "converted" ones, are quite content, and don't "pine" to get outside. Remind yourself how much better off the cat is to stay indoors. Indoor cats typically live into their upper teens, while outdoor cats have an average life span of 3 - 5 years! Rabies, feline leukemia, fleas (and the tapeworms that come with them), cars (which kill over 1.5 million cats each year), 'stray' bullets, and poison are just some of the dangers faced by outdoor cats.

Ticks and Lyme Disease


Tick and Lyme Disease Facts

Ticks are not insects. Ticks are arachnids, as are chiggers, spiders and mites.

Lyme disease (LD) is a multi-system bacterial infection caused by a spirochete Borrelia burgdoferi (Bb). These spirochetes are maintained in nature in the bodies of wild animals and are transmitted from one animal to another through the bite of an infective tick. Humans and pets are incidental hosts to ticks. The body does not maintain a natural immunity to the disease. Thus, a person can be reinfected with the disease on subsequent tick bite.

Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of an infective tick.

While ticks can bite year-round, peak tick season in the West coast is November - April. Ticks can survive under a variety of conditions as long as adequate moisture is available.

An infective tick with local infection must be attached to the host for a day or more before transmission of Bb occurs. However, a systematically infected tick or improper tick removal may cause transmission of LD much sooner.

Treatment varies and depends on how early a diagnosis is made and the organ system(s) involved. No definitive treatment regimens have been determined, and failures occur with all protocols.


Signs and symptoms of Early Local Lyme Disease often starts with flu-like feelings of headache, stiff neck, fever, muscle aches, and fatigue. About 60% of light-skinned patients notice a unique enlarging rash, referred to as erythema migrans (EM), days to weeks after the bite. On dark-skinned people, this rash resembles a bruise.

The rash may appear within a day of the bite or as late as a month later. This rash may start as a small, reddish bump about one-half inch in diameter. It may be slightly raised or flat. It soon expands outward, often leaving a clearing (normal flesh color) in the center. It can enlarge to the size of a thumbprint or cover a person's back.

Don't confuse a local reaction to a tick bite, with signs of infection. A small inflamed skin bump or discoloration that develops within hours of a bite


and over the next day or two is not likely to be due to infection - but rather a local reaction to the disruption of the skin.

Some people do not notice these early indicators of infection. Early manifestations usually disappear, and disseminated (other organ system involvement) infection may occur. General symptoms alone do not indicate Lyme disease.

Other Symptoms

Profound fatigue, severe headache, fever(s), severe muscle aches/pain, vision changes, red eye, conjunctivitis, "spots" before eyes, rash not at the bite site - This skin discoloration varies in size and shape; usually has rings of varying shades, but can be uniformly discolored; may be hot to the touch or itch; ranges in color from reddish to purple to bruised-looking; and can be necrotic (crusty/oozy). The rash may develop a bull's-eye rash or target look. The shape may be circular, oval, triangular, or a long thin ragged line.

Tick Removal

Tick's mouthparts have reverse harpoon-like barbs, designed to penetrate and attach to skin. Ticks secrete a cement-like substance that helps them adhere firmly to the host. If you find that a tick has bitten you or your pet, it is important to remove it properly.

Tick Removal Procedure:

1.Use fine-point tweezers to grasp the tick at the place of attachment, as close to the skin as possible.

2.Gently pull the tick straight out.

3.Place the tick in a small vial labeled with the victim's name, address and the date.

4.Wash your hands, disinfect the tweezers and bite site.

5.Mark your calendar with the victim's name, place of tick attachment on the body, and general health at the time.

6.Call your doctor to determine if treatment is warranted.

7.Watch the tick-bite site and your general health for signs or symptoms of a tick-borne illness. Make sure you mark any changes in your health status on your calendar.

8.If possible, have the tick identified/tested by a lab, your local health department, or veterinarian.

Leave the mouthparts; they will come out on their own as the skin sloughs off.




Small Woodlands Management Practices

As a private woodland owner in the Butte Creek Watershed, you are one of more than tem million Americans who own approximately 59% of the commercial forest land in America. The forest industry owns 14% and the remaining 27% is controlled by the U.S. Forest Service and other government agencies.

Wood products from U.S. forests are among the nation’s most valued agricultural commodities. The average Californian consumes the equivalent of a 10-foot tree every year. By 2020, it is estimated the demand for wood products will have increased by 20%. In addition, the forestry sector is one of the top ten industrial employers in 46 of the 20 states. Your forest not only provides wood products but also provides other values for society and for you personally. Wildlife habitat, clean air and water, recreational opportunities, other ecological functions and aesthetic values are just a few examples.

What you do on your land affects sustainable forestry in America. Whether you are currently conducting forest operations on your property or have not had active operations for years, your management may influence water quality, the way wetlands function and many other values of the forest. Forest operations need to be conducted so they maintain water quality and wetlands.

The term "non-point sources of pollution" is used to identify water quality problems from agricultural, forestry and other land management as different from pollution coming from "point sources" such as sewage treatment facilities or manufacturing discharges. Forestry practices contribute only a very small part to the nation's overall water quality problems but they can have significant local impacts. These potential problems can be avoided through the use of "best management practices" or BMP's.

The term "Best Management Practices" means a practice or combination of practices that is determined by a state (or designated area-wide planning agency) after problem assessment, examination of alternative practices and appropriate public participation to be the most effective, practicable (including technological, economic and institutional considerations) means of preventing or reducing the amount of pollution generated by non-point sources to a level compatible with water quality goals.


Examples of best forest management practices to protect water quality include:

Erosion control measures (water bars, dips, etc.) on roads and skid trails.

Leaving vegetated buffer strips along streams.

Using accepted guidelines for stream crossing.

Recommended practices for harvesting and site preparation for reforestation.

Using accepted guidelines for herbicide applications.

Control of waste disposal on forestlands.

BMP’s are a critical part of sustainable forestry. It is just good sense to plan forest operations carefully and consider their impacts before starting. Good design, construction and maintenance of forest roads not only protect water quality but also protects your investment in the road itself. Each of us should be interested in using herbicides carefully and this includes leaving untreated vegetated buffer strips around water and property boundaries.

Generally speaking, the cost of BMPs is borne by the landowner. They may require actual expenditures or may involve foregone revenues in some areas if management options are restricted. The cost of failures resulting from not using BMPs could be exceedingly high. Fore example, an improperly designed and constructed road that fails and introduces sediment in forest streams is nearly always much more costly to repair than doing it right in the first place.

Most of these activities are regulated by California's Forest Practice Act, which requires a Timber Harvest Plan prior to engaging in forest harvesting. The Forest Practice Act and the Timber Harvest Plan process assist the landowner in determining the BMPs to be used for the tract being prepared for harvesting. Additional help is available from professional industrial foresters who buy the products being harvest as well as private forest consultants. They can assist the landowner in determining the best course of action to meet his or her particular goals and can guide the landowner through the planning process. Cooperative Extension Service foresters can also provide education and information about BMPs.

Recycling  Used Oil


Used Oil Facts

Used motor oil can contain toxic substances such as benzene, lead, zinc, and cadmium.

The oil from a single oil change (1 gallon) can ruin the taste of a million gallons of drinking water (1 part per million), the supply of 50 people for one year.

One pint of oil can produce a slick of approximately one acre on the surface of water.

Films of oil on the surface of water prevent the replenishment of dissolved oxygen, impair photosynthetic processes, and block sunlight. Oil dumped on land reduces soil productivity.

Of the over 1.3 billion gallons of used oils (industrial and lubricating) generated each year in the U.S., less than 60% is recycled

Over 20 million gallons of used motor oil is disposed each year in an unknown manner in California by do-it-yourself oil changers. This equates to nearly 1 gallon of DIY used oil improperly disposed of for every adult


Re-Refined Oil Facts

2.5 quarts of re-refined lubricating oil can be produced from one gallon of used oil

Re-refining is energy efficient--less energy is required to produce a gallon of re-refined base stock than to produce a base stock from crude oil

Re-refined oil prices are competitive to equivalent virgin oil products

Mercedes Benz installs re-refined oil in every new car manufactured.

If the oil generated by all do-it-yourself oil changers in America were collected and re-refined, it would provide enough motor oil for over 50 million cars each year. This would reduce our dependence on imported oil, help reduce our trade deficit, and provide jobs.

The Department of Defense compared making lube oils from virgin base oil and use oil and determined using used oil was both more environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

90% of the used oil filters generated by Do-It-Yourselfers are not recycled.

Recycling 1 ton of used oil filters recovers 1,700 pounds of steel and up to 60 gallons of used oil.



Why Recycle Used Oil?

Did you know that used motor oil never wears out?  It just gets dirty and can be recycled, cleaned, and used again. Recycling used motor oil conserves a natural resource (oil) and is good for the environment too! Motor oil poured onto the ground or into storm drains, or tossed into trashcans (even in a sealed container) can contaminate and pollute the soil, groundwater, streams, and rivers.

Recycling your used motor oil reduces this pollution threat. When you take your used oil to a certified center for recycling, you are protecting the environment, conserving a valuable resource, and getting paid for it.


About the Certified Centers

The Integrated Waste Management Board encourages the recycling of used motor oil by certifying used oil recycling collection centers throughout the state. Certified Used Oil Collection Centers will take used motor oil from the public and will pay you 16¢ a gallon. Most centers will take up to 5 gallons at a time.


What About Contaminated Oil?

Certified center managers will not accept used motor oil that has been contaminated with other fluids such as antifreeze, solvents, gasoline, or water. So please, don't mix your used oil with anything.

However, if your used oil accidentally gets contaminated, your certified center manager can tell you where to take it for proper disposal.   Alternatively, you can get information from your local government contact about how to deal with your suspected contaminated oil.


Where are the Certified Used Oil Collection Centers in Butte County?

Locations for Certified Used Oil Collection Centers can be found on the next page.

You can also call the Earth's 911 hotline:









Certified Used Oil Recycling Collection

Centers in Butte County


AutoZone #3321

1843 Park Ave

Chico, CA 95928


AutoZone #5306

136 W East Ave

Chico, CA 95926


Chico Auto Parts, Inc

175 E 20th St

Chico, CA 95928


Chuck Patterson Toyota

200 East Ave

Chico, CA 95926


Econo Lube N' Tune

1957 E 20th St.

Chico, CA 95928


First Gear

175 E 9th Street

Chico, CA 95926


Jiffy Lube

1218 Mangrove Ave

Chico, CA 95926


Kragen Auto Parts #1009

2485 Notre Dame Blvd

Chico, CA 95928


Kragen Auto Parts #1448

1618 Mangrove Ave

Chico, CA 95926


North Valley Disposal & Recycling

2569 Scott Ave

Chico, CA 95928


Pep Boys #980

1555 Mangrove Ave

Chico, CA 95926


Warren's Drive Thru Lube

557 Nord Ave

Chico, CA 95926





Avery's 10 Minute Lube and Oil

3034 Olive Hwy

Oroville, CA 95966


Butte County Public Works

#9 County Center Dr

Oroville, CA 95965


Jiffy Lube

1450 Oroville Dam Blvd

Oroville, CA 95965


Kragen Auto Parts #1275

2525 Oro Dam Blvd

Oroville, CA 95966


North State Rendering Co. Inc

15 Shippee Road

Oroville, CA 95965


Triple S Tires

2971 Lincoln Blvd

Oroville, CA 95966


AutoZone #5308

7542 Skyway Rd

Paradise, CA 95969


Jiffy Lube #728

6420 Clark Rd

Paradise, CA 95969


Kragen Auto Parts #4123

6640 Clark Rd

Paradise, CA 95969


Recycle Paradise

951 American Way

Paradise, CA 95969


Kragen Auto Parts #1275

2525 Oro Dam Blvd

Oroville, CA 95966


Holochwost Repair and Machine

9335 Midway

Durham, CA 95938




Gridley Household Hazardous Waste Recycling

Ord Ranch Rd

Gridley, CA 95948


Stohlman's Union 76 Station

505 Virginia St.

Gridley, CA 95948


AutoZone #5308

7542 Skyway Rd

Paradise, CA 95969


Jiffy Lube #728

6420 Clark Rd

Paradise, CA 95969


Kragen Auto Parts #4123

6640 Clark Rd

Paradise, CA 95969


Recycle Paradise

951 American Way

Paradise, CA 95969


Jiffy Lube

1450 Oroville Dam Blvd

Oroville, CA 95965


Avery's 10 Minute Lube and Oil

3034 Olive Hwy

Oroville, CA 95966


Butte County Public Works

#9 County Center Dr

Oroville, CA 95965


North State Rendering Co. Inc

15 Shippee Road

Oroville, CA 95965


Triple S Tires

2971 Lincoln Blvd

Oroville, CA 95966



You can also call the Earth's 911 hotline (1-800-CLEANUP).






Commonly used pesticides are getting into our waterways. Testing has shown that even small amounts of these pesticides may be lethal to creatures that are an important part of the food web. Pesticides reach our waters through both the sewer and storm drain systems due to nor-

mal use and improper disposal.




Identify the pest and afflicted plant.

Make sure the pesticide you choose is labeled for use on that plant and that pest.

Read the entire label - it's the best source of information about how to use the product.

If more than one product works, then select the least toxic pesticide.  (See Signal Words, below).

Buy only the amount you can use in one season.

Time your treatments to catch pests at their most vulnerable stage.

Spot treat whenever possible.

Try to buy pesticides in single-use, or ready-to-use form. Avoid concentrates and the large economy size.




The label on a pesticide container is a legal document that describes exactly how the product is to be used based on extensive testing.

Make sure you understand how to mix and apply the pesticide before you begin, then follow all label directions exactly.

Use the product only as described on the label.



Caution, Warning, Danger, and Poison are "signal words" that indicates the product’s level of acute toxicity to humans. Caution means slightly toxic, Warning means moderately toxic, Danger means highly toxic and Poison indicates the greatest danger. In addition to the acute (immediate) risks, pesticides may also have chronic (long-term) risks to humans, animals, and the environment.



•Read the label before using the pesticide and follow the directions. You can cause serious injury to yourself, children, pets and the environment if you misuse pesticides.

•Before using pesticides, remove children, pets, and toys from the area and cover birdbaths, fish ponds and anything else you don’t want sprayed or dusted.

•Don't smoke, eat, chew gum, or drink when handling pesticides.

•Follow label directions for wearing protective gear when mixing and applying pesticides.  Depending on the product, this might include:

Ø      plastic or rubber gloves, safety glasses, or goggles;

Ø      a respirator rated for pesticides;

Ø      long-sleeved shirt, long pants or overalls, and closed shoes (no sandals or bare feet).





ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: The common name of the pesticide, and the chemical name if it has one; look here first to find out exactly what is in the product before buying it.

SIGNAL WORDS: Caution, Warning, Danger, or Poison - signals the toxicity-level category of the product.


The product code used by the manufacturer and the EPA; use this number when contacting the manufacturer or EPA about the product.

PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENTS:  Known hazards to humans, domestic animals, and the environment.

NOTE TO PHYSICIANS: Actions a doctor should take if the product is ingested, inhaled, or comes into contact with skin or eyes

FIRST AID INSTRUCTIONS: Immediate action required if the product is ingested, inhaled, or comes into contact with skin or eyes.

DIRECTIONS FOR USE: How much product to use; how to mix and apply the product.

CONTROLS: Pests that the product is formulated to control.

PLANTS: Plants that can safely be treated with the product; if the product can be used on

food plants, the label also tells you how many days before harvest you can apply the product.

STORAGE AND DISPOSAL: How to safely store the product. Unwanted pesticides should be taken to a household hazardous waste facility or collection event.


Water used to rinse out a sprayer or applicator should be applied like the pesticide.

After applying pesticides, take a shower and put on clean clothes.

Teach children that pesticides are poisons that should never be touched or consumed. 



If you find yourself with unwanted pesticides, give them to someone who can use them, or take them to a household hazardous waste collection facility or event like the ones listed below, and 


• Don't pour leftover pesticides or water from rinsing equipment on the ground or in any type of drain inside or outside the house.

• Don't put pesticides in the trash.

• Never use or give away any pesticide that has been banned such as chlordane or DDT.

• Never remove labels or transfer pesticides to other containers.

• If you buy concentrates and dilute them for use, mix up the smallest quantity that will do the job, and use it up.

• When mixing or measuring pesticides, use a dedicated set of spoons and cups.  Mark the utensils with something permanent, such as fingernail polish, and store them with the pesticides so they won’t ever be used in the kitchen.

• Store pesticides in their original containers, out of the reach of children and pets, in a cool, dark, dry place outside the house.  A locking cupboard in the garage or storage shed is ideal.







Keeping Neighbors Friendly


To have a successful community, friendly neighbors are important. Through community organizations, social events, and casual social gatherings, neighbors are able to get to know one another. Qualities of a good neighbor include: being active in the community association, participating in community activities, communicating with other neighbors, looking out for one another, helping others in times of need, and welcoming new residents to the community.


Other Tips

If new neighbors move in, make it a point to welcome them as soon as possible. Don’t put off directly contacting your new neighbors. Remember: first impressions last.

Exchange phone numbers.

Support and encourage a Neighborhood Watch Program. Contact your local Police Station for more information about Neighborhood Watch Programs.

Attend and participate in local community group meetings.

Get to know your local community leaders.

Respect your neighbors' privacy.

Do your part to maintain shared access roads or driveways.

Discuss with your neighbors your commonly held property, such as fences, ditches, culverts, etc.

Discuss with your neighbors any existing encroachments. Clarifying encroachment matters as soon as possible can divert many disputes. Communication is the key to keeping good relationships with your neighbors.

Alert your neighbors before any special or unusual events being held on your property.

Keep your animals under control. Do not let your dogs run free after dark. Maintain horse and cattle enclosures to prevent escapes.



Tips for disputes with neighbors

Assuming there is no threat of physical violence or verbal intimidation:

Deal directly with the person you are in dispute with. This is usually far better than letters, messages, shouting, banging on walls, throwing things, or talking to everyone else except "that person".

Plan a convenient, sensible time and place to talk to the other person. Bad timing can increase and escalate the dispute rather than diminish the tension.

Think beforehand about what you want to say. It is important to be clear about what you think the problem is and how you feel about the dispute.

Don't be too quick to lay the blame on the other person. Finger-pointing and insulting behavior will cloud the issue and make it harder for the other side to actually take in what you are saying.

Don't interpret your neighbor’s behavior. "You park outside our entrance deliberately to wind us up" sounds much worse than "parking outside our entrance causes a lot of inconvenience".

Do give your neighbor a chance to say their side of the story. Let them know you are listening to what they are saying even if you disagree with what they are saying.

Let them know that you are pleased that you can get together to discuss the problem. This can help you both to feel positive and bring you closer to an agreement.

Work on the problems co-operatively. See what you can both do to resolve the dispute. Two people working towards a mutual agreement can get a lot further than one person dictating to the other on how they should change or improve their behavior.

Bring all the issues out into the open. Take the time to work on all the issues involved. Make sure that the difficult ones don't get swept under the carpet.

Look ahead. Agree to meet each other at specific future dates to check on how things are going.


Riparian Rights


Riparian Rights

No California statute defines riparian rights, but a modification of the common law doctrine of riparian rights has been established in this State by decisions of the courts and confirmed by the provisions of section 3, Article XIV of the California Constitution (see California Water Code sections 100, 101). Lands within the watershed of a natural watercourse, which are traversed thereby or border thereon, with the exceptions and limitations hereinafter, indicated, may be riparian. Each owner thereof may have a right, which is correlative with the right of each other riparian owner to share in the reasonable beneficial use of the natural flow of water, which passes his land. No permit is required for such use.

What is a Riparian Right?

► A riparian right is the right to use water based on the ownership of property which abuts a natural watercourse.

► Water claimed by virtue of a riparian right must be used on the riparian parcel. The riparian right cannot be transferred for use upon another parcel of land.

► Such a right is generally attached to the riparian parcel of land except where a riparian right has been preserved on non-contiguous parcels after the land has been subdivided, Hudson v. Dailey, (1909) 156 Cal. 617.

► A parcel of land loses its riparian right when severed from land bordering the stream by conveyance unless the right is reserved for the severed parcel. The riparian right also may be destroyed when purportedly transferred apart from the land by grant, contract, or condemnation. Once lost, it cannot be restored.

► Riparian rights were adopted in California as a part of the English Common Law when California entered statehood in 1850. At that time, however, gold miners were already operating under their own system of prior appropriation to claim water rights.

► Water cannot be stored and withheld for a deferred use (other than regulatory storage) under claim of riparian right.

Riparian Users' ("Riparians") Entitlements

► Riparians were entitled to enough water to make beneficial use of the water on the land.

► Condition -- so long as no other riparians were harmed by such use.



► Generally, riparian rights are not lost through non-use.

► Use of water in the State of California is limited to "reasonable and beneficial use" by Article X, Section 2 of the California Constitution.

How Are Disputes Between Riparian Users Settled?

► The right to use water is a property right and may be protected against infringement in the same manner as any other property right; i.e., by appropriate court action.

► There is no priority of riparian right. Senior and junior riparians do no exist.

► The court in Harris v. Harrison, (1892) 93 Cal. 676, held that in times of water shortage, all riparians must adjust water use to allow for a equal sharing of the available water supply. This is a system of corellative rights.

What is an Appropriative Right?

► An appropriative right is entitlement to water based on the actual use of the water.

► Appropriative rights may be sold or transferred.

► A party (senior) who first diverts water has priority (and a superior right) to use that before subsequent (junior) appropriators.

History Behind Prior Appropriation

The gold miners' system of "first-in-time, first-in-right" was first recognized in California by Irwin v. Phillips, (1855) 5 Cal. 140.of appropriation has since been codified in Section 1450 of the California Water Code (CWC).

Are There Restrictions on Senior Rights as Applied Against Juniors?

► A senior may not change an established use of the water to the detriment of a junior. This restriction includes a junior's reliance on a return flow.

► A senior may not enforce a water right against a junior if such a right would not be put to beneficial use.

What are the Elements of Appropriation?

► Intent to use the water

► Diversion or control of the water

► Reasonable and beneficial use of the

► Priority of appropriation.

Current System of Appropriative Rights

Acquisition of a water right is subject to the issuance of a permit by the State Water Resources Control Board. Priority is based on the date a permit is issued.

 Deeds, Easements, and Surveys



The most common method of conveying real property interests is by conveyances known as deeds. The essentials of a deed are; a) competent or proper parties, b) a proper subject matter (interests or rights in land), c) a valid consideration, d) a written or printed form, e) a reading, if desired, before the execution, f) execution, signing, sealing, attestation, and g) the delivery.

Anybody can record a deed. Anybody can write a property description. Attorneys for example, frequently write property descriptions without benefit of a survey. Surveyors sometimes write descriptions according to information of record. So keep in mind that the property lines may not be accurately defined on your property. Many surveys are made for the exclusive purpose of determining whether a written description is in fact in agreement with possession.



An easement is the right that the public or an individual has in the lands of another. An easement does not give the grantee a right to the land-only a right to use the land for a specified purpose. The owner of the land may also use it for any purpose that does not interfere with the specified use by the grantee.

The method of obtaining easement rights form long usage is known as prescription. A person may travel across a tract or parcel of land for a period of time required by the statute of limitations and acquire a right to continue the act of using the land. The act of using the land must have been open, continuous, and exclusive for the period of time required. A highway right of way can be acquired by the state if the public has used it for a long period of time.

Not all the easements may be shown on your plat. Your property may be encumbered by a utility easement, a forgotten road, an encroaching driveway, or even something as remote as a view easement. All easements however must be recorded to be enforceable. Your title policy should make reference to recorded easements.


Property Boundary Surveys

In the state of California only a Licensed Surveyor may submit a map for recordation or set legally binding property monuments.

A property boundary survey is an opinion of a Land Surveyor (based on education, training and experience) of the location of the property boundary on the ground, in relationship to adjoining properties or to government land office corners and lines.

Whenever there is a difference between possession and title lines, it is not the province of the surveyor to decide who has the right of possession. Normally this is a legal matter referred to an attorney.


Survey Marks and Monuments

Survey marks and monuments are not necessarily property corners. Many times the points you see on the ground do not reflect the corners or boundaries of the properties. An iron pipe, stake, etc. may mark the beginning or end of a curve of a road. The cross you may see chiseled on a concrete curb is almost never the boundary mark or corner. Generally the cross is a mark extending the lot line in a subdivision to the street. The actual property boundary is likely in back of the curb.

It is important to know where all property monuments are on your land. Visit these monuments periodically to check their condition. Clear around the area, if possible, and paint or mark the location. If construction or natural forces threaten to destroy a monument you should record measurements from the monument to the nearest objects (boulders, trees, fence lines) and keep these measurements in a safe place. They may be helpful for relocating the position of a disturbed property monument.

It is against the law to remove, move, or otherwise tamper with a property survey monument. Do not remove any evidence of property markers. This evidence may be vital in locating the true boundaries of your property. The markings on some monuments may be subdivision lot numbers, a sectional description of the property corner or the license number of the surveyor that set the monument.

CAVEAT: Please consult an attorney for legal advice. Laws in the United States differ from one jurisdiction to another. Any law stated herein is for educational purposes only and may not apply to your particular circumstance.

 Conservation Options


Conservation Easement

A perpetual legal agreement between a private property owner and a qualified conservation organization to voluntarily place restrictions on the type and amount of development that may take place on a piece of property and to protect significant natural features including wildlife or wildlife habitat.



Easements provide federal income, estate, and gift tax benefits if easement is donated or conveyed at less than fair market value;

Allows the property owner to retain ownership of the wetland while potentially receiving income, estate, and property tax reductions;

Easement restrictions are flexible within certain guidelines and can be adapted to fit the needs of the landowner;

Easements may provide permanent protection for the wetland.


Usually involves giving up some rights relating to the use of property;

The landowner is responsible for maintenance and other costs of the land.


Donation of Land

When you donate a conservation easement to a land trust, you permanently give up some of the rights associated with the land. For example, you might give up the right to build additional residences, while retaining the right to grow crops


There are three types of land donations:

1.Outright donation

Grants full title and ownership to the conservation organization, community, or government agency receiving the donated property.

2.Donation by deathtime transfer
Donation of land through a will.

3.Donation with reserved life estate
Donation of land with retention of rights by the landowner to use all or part of the donated land during his/her lifetime and the lifetimes of designated family members.



Donation is an excellent way to provide total protection for wetlands and ensure the wetlands will be maintained and enhanced;

Landowners can receive income tax deductions and possible estate, gift, and property tax breaks;

Grants communities and conservation organizations vital wetland areas they might not have been able to purchase;

Outright donation is simple, eliminates most negotiations, and can be conducted quickly; Donation by deathtime transfer allows the landowner to retain full use and control over his or her land while alive and to ensure the land's protection after the owner is deceased;

Donation by deathtime transfer reduces estate taxes and may benefit heirs with reduced inheritance taxes;

Donation with reserved life estate allows the landowner to continue to live on and use the property during his/her lifetime while also securing the land's future protection; and donation with reserved

Life estate allows designation for family members or other persons only, without any reservations by the landowner.


The landowner loses potential income from the sale of the land;

Maintenance and other associated costs taken on by the organization or agency receiving the property may be more costly than easements to the agency or group;

There is no income tax deduction for a donation by deathtime transfer;

The landowner is responsible for property taxes for as long as he or she remains in possession of the land;

Tax relief from a donation with reserved life estate generally applies to a personal residence or farm. Wetlands may not necessarily qualify;

There may not be a guarantee of perpetual preservation unless legally enforceable controls are imposed in the grant.


CalTIP (Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters)


California’s Secret Witness Program

CalTIP (Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters) is a confidential secret witness program to encourage the public to provide Fish and Game factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters.  The caller is eligible for a cash reward if his/her information leads to a citation or an arrest.

CalTIP was introduced in California in 1981, in order to give Californians an opportunity to help protect the state's fish and wildlife resources. The toll free telephone number operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You may remain anonymous.


Poaching is the illegal taking of fish and wildlife. It can involve hunting out of season, the taking of more fish or game animals than the law allows, and the killing of protected wildlife. Lesser known but equally devastating crimes against wildlife include such acts like the illegal collection of native reptiles for commercial trade, the illegal collection of duck and goose eggs from the state's marshlands, and the insidious practice of transporting and introducing non-native, undesirable fish (like northern pike and white bass) into California’s lakes and rivers.

Poachers devastate nature by breaking laws designed to assure proper wildlife management and species survival.

Poaching is an insult to the vast majority of hunters and anglers who obey the rules. Because poaching is a crime of secrecy and stealth, its full impact in California is impossible to identify completely. Enough poaching is documented to realize that it exacts a very heavy toll.

 State Department of Fish and Game wardens do all they can to combat poaching. But there are only a few hundred wardens spread throughout California. To successfully fight poaching they must have help from all Californians.



As the population of California swells, the effects of pollution are felt more profoundly than ever. Incidents of industrial and agricultural pollution as well as the dumping of household waste can be devastating to our fish and wildlife and the habitat on which they depend.

To combat polluting, concerned citizens who become aware of such acts can become involved and report their observations.


To Report a Poacher or Polluter

If you witness a poaching or polluting incident or any fish and wildlife violation, or have information about such a violation, immediately dial the toll free CalTIP number


1 (888) DFG-CALTIP,

24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Be prepared to give the fullest possible account of the incident including the name, address, age

and description of the suspect, vehicle description, direction of travel, license number, type of violations and when and where it occurred. Your identity will be protected.

A warden or dispatcher will take your call. Information from the call is relayed to the Fish and Game region where the offense occurred and an investigation is undertaken locally. If the information supplied by the caller results in an arrest the caller becomes eligible for a reward. (Rewards up to $1,000 have been paid.) All reward money is acquired through private donations; no state funds are used. The case is then reviewed by a volunteer citizen's group known as the "Caltip Citizens Review Board.


CalTIP rewards come entirely from donations, no state funds are used. The CalTIP Citizen's Review Board, not the Department of Fish and Game receives and administers these funds. To contribute to the fund, please write out a check to "CalTIP Program", P.O. Box 1787, Graeagle, CA 961034.

What You Should Know Before You Hire a Contractor


Before you hire a contractor or sign a contract for home repair, call the Contractors State License Board at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752).


Every Licensed Contractor should have this card.


Do's and Don'ts


Plan your project carefully.

Shop around before hiring a contractor.

Get at least three written bids on your project.

Provide contractors from whom you request bids with accurate plans for drawings that will enable them to determine the scope and cost of the work.

Check with the Contractors State License Board to see if a contractor is properly licensed.

Check out contractors with your local building department, trade associations or unions, consumer protection agency, and the Better Business Bureau.

Look at work the contractor has completed.

Ask your contractor to furnish a completion or contract bond.

Consult with more than one lending institution regarding the type of loan to obtain.

Ask your lender to recommend a funding control company.

Make sure everything you and your contractor have agreed to, is included in your contract.

Ask your contractor about inconveniences that may occur, and plan accordingly.

Keep a job file.

Make sure you receive lien releases from subcontractors and material suppliers.

Make frequent inspections of the work, including a final walk-through.

Consult an attorney if a mechanic's lien is filed against your property.

If problems or disagreements occur, try first to negotiate with the contractor.



Do Not:

Hire an unlicensed contractor.

Hire a contractor without first shopping around.

Sign anything until you completely understand it and agree to the terms.

Make agreements with subcontractors or workers without consulting the prime contractor.

Never pay cash, without proper receipt.

Make a down payment without checking with your lender or the Contractors State License Board to make sure it does not exceed the legal limit.

Let your payments get ahead of the contractors completed work.

Hesitate to ask questions of the contractor.

Make final payment until you are satisfied with the job.


Be Sure Your Contract Includes:

The contractor's names, address, and license number and the name and registration number of any salesperson who solicited or negotiated the contract.

The approximate dates (not number of working days) when the work will begin and be substantially completed.

A description of the work to be done, a description of the materials and equipment to be used or installed, and the price for the work.

A schedule of payments showing the amount of each payment in dollars and cents.

If the payment schedule contained in the contract provides for a down payment, it shall not exceed $1,000 or 10 percent of the contract price, excluding finance charges, whichever is less. If the contract provides for the contractor to furnish performance and payment bonds, lien and completion bonds, a bond equivalent, or a funding control, this limitation of down payment does not apply.

A Notice To Owner regarding the state's lien laws, and the rights and responsibilities of an owner of property.

A description of what constitutes substantial commencement of work.

►A notice that the failure of the contractor, without lawful excuse, to substantially commence work within 20 days from the approximate date specified in the contract when work is to begin is a violation of the Contractors License Law.

 Salmon Facts


Salmon are anadromous, which means that they spend part of their life in fresh water and part in salt water. It takes so much energy for salmon to reproduce that most species spawn just once and then die. As they grow and mature, they use many different habitats, but they return to spawn in the stream that they hatched in. These streams must be clean, cool, and shady, with gravel bottoms and deep pools in order to be useful to salmon. Eggs
are laid in freshwater streams, along lake shorelines, and in rivers. The young hatchlings, initially called alevin, then later fry, may move to other areas of the watershed such as up into small, intermittently flowing streams, wetlands, or ponds. In these places, they find food and can escape predators and fast flowing flood waters.

Each area provides different foods. As they grow, they change into an intermediate stage called smolt prior to reaching the sea and adulthood. While some waters have several species of salmon, not all species exist in every stream or river.

Immediately after emergence, the chinook fry are found in quiet water areas, along the stream bank, close to cover such as tree roots or logs. Juvenile chinook move into locations of higher velocity, either along the stream margin or in boulder runs away from the shore. Most chinook smolts migrate to the estuary or ocean in the spring. Some juveniles may remain in large pools with complex cover until they emigrate in the fall. Structures that create quiet water or debris accumulation at the stream margins are beneficial for fry survival following emergence. The enhancement or creation of large, deep pools with abundant cover can increase rearing potential for chinook juveniles.

Chinook migrate to sea and spend several years there before returning to their stream of origin to spawn.



Today, through commercial fishing, salmon provide many jobs and are a favored part of our diet. They are also important for recreation such as sport fishing and wildlife observation.

Salmon play a vital role in the food chain for other wildlife such as osprey, bears, and bald eagles. This role is fulfilled both as live prey and as dead carcasses, or carrion. When salmon spawn and die, they return nutrients from the oceans to the upper watershed areas, enhancing and improving the richness of these areas.


What Are the Odds?

The survival rate of eggs in a salmon redd (nest) is low. Depending on the species, spawning females may lay from 300 (kokanee) to 10,000 (chinook) eggs in a season, in up to 5 nests, with an average of 3,000 eggs per female. Of these 3,000 eggs, approximately 810 or 27% hatch. Only 81 or 1% of the fry survive to reach the ocean. Only 5 or 6 live to be adults. Of the entire batch of eggs, only 1 or 2 or 1/10 of 1% survive predation, competition, factory ships on the high seas, pollution, oxygen-poor reservoirs, dams, and loss of habitat, to make it back to their home streams to spawn.



The steelhead is a rainbow trout that migrates to sea as a juvenile and returns to fresh water as an adult to spawn. Unlike the Pacific salmon, the steelhead trout does not always die following spawning and may spawn more than once and return to the sea after each spawning.



 Photovolataic Solar Electric Systems

Text Box: In California, the "average" residential customer uses 6,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year. 


Unlike a solar hot water system that uses the sun's energy to heat water, solar electric or photovoltaic technology uses the sun's energy to make electricity. PV technology produces electricity directly from the electrons freed by the interaction of sunlight with certain semiconductor materials, such as silicon, in the PV module. The electrons are collected to form a direct current (DC) of electricity.


A complete PV system usually consists of one or more modules connected to an inverter that changes the PV's DC electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity to power your electrical devices and to be compatible with the electric grid. Batteries are often included in the system to provide back-up power in case of utility power outages. If you are seeking a reliable generation system that can function independently of the utility grid, batteries may be a viable component to your total system.


Is photovoltaic electricity more expensive?

PV-generated electricity is still more expensive than conventional utility-supplied electricity when amortized over the life of the system. PV electricity can cost about 25 cents or more per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Depending on the installed cost of the system, the retail price is roughly twice what most California residents pay for utility-supplied electricity.


A 2-kilowatt (2,000-watt) system may cost $13,000 to $20,000 installed, or $6.50 to $10 per watt. At the other extreme, a 5-kilowatt system that will completely offset the energy needs of many conventional homes may cost $30,000 to $40,000 installed, or $6 to $8 per watt. (All above costs are before deducting the Buy-down rebate.)


Recent California law allows you to use the electric grid like a battery and store any surplus electricity produced from the PV system on the electric utility grid to be used later (see "What is net metering?").


This is a real advantage to you, placing a value on the electricity you generate at the full retail electricity rate.


What is the Emerging Renewables Buy-down Account?

The California Legislature set aside $54 million to reduce, or "buy down," the up-front price consumers pay to purchase and install emerging renewable energy technologies, such as solar photovoltaic. Buy-down amounts are based on the generating capacity of the systems, measured in watts.

Investing in a PV system





What is net metering?

As an eligible customer with a PV or small wind system, net metering allows you to interconnect with your utility and feed your surplus electricity to the utility grid. You can use an equivalent amount of electricity later without additional cost to you.

Net metering allows your electricity meter to spin forward when electricity flows from the utility into your building, and backward when your system produces surplus electricity that is not immediately used. Your excess electricity is "banked" on the utility grid.


Typical System Components





Solar Water Heating Systems


Solar water heating is a technology that every homeowner can use to save dollars on utility bills.

What is a solar water heater?

A solar water heater uses the sun's energy rather than electricity or gas to heat water, thus reducing your monthly utility bill. When installed properly, solar water heaters are more economical over the life of the system than heating water with electricity, dedicated heat pumps, heat recovery units or propane.

What size solar system do I need?

A rough rule of thumb is 10-square-feet of collector area, per person, and 20 gallons of water storage, per person. Thus, for a family of four, 40-square-feet of collector and a total tank storage of 80 gallons are typical.

How much do I save?

Your monthly savings will depend on the amount of hot water you use, storage tank size and type and price of fuel used for backup water heating. For a family of four, the typical hot water usage is 70-gallons per day, thus using 3990-kilowatt-hours per year to heat the water electrically or $399 per year worth of electricity at 10¢ per kilowatt-hour.

Do I have to change my habits to use a solar water heater?

No. Solar water heaters are always installed with a backup heating system in the storage tank to ensure that hot water is available at all times. However, to maximize solar utilization and your savings, you should attempt to use the most hot water in t