Carbon Sequestration Protocol for Mountain Meadow Restoration

Stillwater is leading a group of projects with the sequential goals of measuring carbon sequestration in the field and then developing a meadow carbon protocol for the hydrologic restoration of degraded mountain meadows. Our team, the Sierra Meadow Restoration Research Partnership (SMRRP), includes ten partner institutions. We are employing a modified before-after, control-impact (BACI) design using seven impact (to be restored), six control (to remain degraded), and two reference ('ideal' condition) meadows. The meadows range in location from the Upper Feather River to the Kern River Basins in the California Sierra Nevada. With CalTrout as the overall project lead, Stillwater is leading the carbon technical advisory committee (TAC) members to develop a common framework and set of field, laboratory, and data analysis protocols to populate a database on net soil carbon sequestration, including changes in soil carbon to one meter depth, above ground primary production, and monthly measurements of flux of the three primary greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane from the meadows using static chamber incubations. The team is also measuring soil moisture, soil temperature, depth to groundwater, and soil nitrogen and carbon content as potential co-variates to net sequestration. Stillwater is collecting these measurements at four of the meadows and analyzing gas samples for seven of the fifteen meadows. If we find that the amount of carbon sequestered indicates that carbon offsets could be provided through hydrologic restoration of degraded meadows, Stillwater will lead the Partnership in developing a Sierra meadow carbon protocol for California.


Location: Sierra Nevada Mountains, California

Clients:  CalTrout, Foothill Conservancy, Truckee River Watershed Conservancy, South Yuba River Citizen's League

Project Manager: Dr. Amy Merrill

Project Lead(s)

Amy Merrill
email | profile

Work Products

View the gallery of imagesimage # image # image # image # image #


Estimated over half of the meadows in the Sierra are hydrologically degraded like this one in the Eldorado National Forest with an incised channel (Emmalien Craydon in Eldorado National Forest meadow in 2009).

View the gallery
image # image # image # image # image #