Lake Almanor and Mountain Meadows Reservoir lie at the boundary between the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades, between Red Bluff and Susanville. These two large reservoirs (13 and 6 miles long, resp.) were constructed on the North Fork of the Feather River by Pacific Gas and Electric to provide hydropower and are separated by a short stream known as Hamilton Branch. Between the reservoirs and the surrounding meadows and forest, this IBA features a wide diversity of northern Californian habitats, including several distinct coniferous forest associations, sagebrush flats, riparian thickets, wet meadows, and freshwater marshes. The spectacular scenery (Mt. Lassen looms to the northwest) and abundance of private land has led to a recent building boom, most severe at Lake Almanor. An exceptionally diverse community of mammals occurs in this IBA, including Mountain Lion, Pronghorn, Sierra Nevada Red Fox, Snowshoe Hare, Pine Marten and Northern Flying-Squirrel.
This IBA is notable for supporting one of the largest populations of Willow Flycatchers in the state, which breed in meadows with willow thickets in and around Westwood. Several Great Basin waterbirds, including small numbers of Greater Sandhill Crane, breed in wet meadows and the marshy margins of the two lakes, and 300 pr. of Eared Grebe were estimated nesting at Mtn. Meadows Reservoir in 1999. The Feather River delta at the northwestern end of Lake Almanor, is especially attractive for breeding Clark's and Western grebes congregating waterbirds during migration, and the number of ducks wintering on the lake can be staggering (e.g. >45,000 American Wigeon in 1989). The vast tracts of unbroken coniferous forest around this IBA support strong numbers of northerly breeding species such as Northern Goshawk, Black-backed Woodpecker and Gray Jay, and has been popular with California birders for decades (see Green and Airola 1997).
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The principal conservation battle of this IBA involves the "Westwood and Dyer Mountain Resort Community", a 6800-acre mega-development within Lassen Co. on the southwestern side of Mountain Meadows Reservoir. A recently-formed land trust, the Mountain Meadows Conservancy, is attempting to ensure land and cultural artifact conservation in the face of the project, which is slated for some of the most biologically diverse portions of the IBA.
Lake Almanor and Mountain Meadows Reservoir were constructed on the North Fork of the Feather River by Pacific Gas and Electric to provide hydropower.
The spectacular scenery (Mt. Lassen looms to the northwest) and abundance of private land has led to a recent building boom.
This IBA features a wide diversity of northern Californian habitats, including several distinct coniferous forest associations, sagebrush flats, riparian thickets, wet meadows, and freshwater marshes.