The Story of Red Clover Creek



The story of Red Clover Creek, in Plumas County, California, teaches us some important lessons.

Prior to the middle 1950s, Red Clover Creek was a relatively shallow stream with permanent baseflow supporting an excellent fishery.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, federal programs were introduced to eliminate willows using aerial herbicide spraying.

At about the same time, over three hundred beaver were removed from the system.

These actions, together with the longstanding effects of heavy grazing and a system of abandoned logging railroad grades in the valley, brought Red Clover Creek to the brink of disaster.

Jim Wilcox


The 1955 flood was the catalyst for the massive gully formation through the valley, which continued through most of the 1980s.

Gully depth averaged 14 ft, and width about 30 ft.

Once the gully formed, the regional water table dropped, baseflow was all but lost, the grassy meadows shrunk, and erosion and sediment transport followed.

The formation of the Feather River Coordinated Resource Management Group in 1985 was triggered by the loss of Red Clover Creek.

Dan Kaffer


After twenty-five years of enlightened management, Red Clover Creek is now returning to its former stable and self-sustaining state.

The restoration work began in 1985 with the installation of four loose-rock checkdams.

Donna Lindquist


In 1995, the Coordinated Resource Management Group developed a new technology called "pond and plug."

Pond and plug seeks to eliminate the gully through onsite excavation and fill, forcing the water level in the valley to rise to meet the historic remnant channels and floodplain.

In 2006 the "pond and plug" technique was used on additional portions of Red Clover Creek downstream of the original check-dam project.



After treatment of 4.5 miles of stream channel, the project is now in its fourth season of recovery.

The water levels have been raised about 14 ft, baseflow has increased substantially, and the grassy meadows are well on their way to recovery.

Dana Brown

Text: Victor M. Ponce

Music: Fernando Oñate

Editor: Flor Pérez

Credits: Jim Wilcox, FRCRMG

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