Restoration of Little Last Chance Lake and Surrounding Meadow

The building of Frenchman Dam in the early 1960s has been a great benefit to many in Eastern Plumas County and beyond; but it has also changed water flow; especially on the lower end of the Little Last Chance Creek. Even before the dam; irrigation used water that would have historically found its way to Little Last Chance Lake. This project will restore and enhance 450 acres of wetland and sub-irrigated meadows back to how this land was before the creek was altered. Since the building of the dam; Little Last Chance Lake is full of water only on extremely wet years and the water dries up long before summer is over. There is no longer enough late winter or early spring runoff below the dam to fill the Little Last Chance Lake with approximately 320 - 500 acre-feet of water. The overall project plan is to restore Little Last Chance Lake in Sierra Valley to a year-round water supply for wildlife and native vegetation; and to provide drinking water for wildlife and livestock.

A description of Phase 1 of the project is to pump early-season supplemental water to the Little Last Chance Lake from the Middle Fork Feather River near Marble Lane in Sierra Valley to restore a year-round water supply for wildlife and native vegetation; as well as to provide drinking water for wildlife and livestock. When the lake is filled it creates approximately 200 acres of open water (with depths up to four feet deep) and over 250 acres of meadow alongside the lake and below its outlet.

Phase 2 of the project proposes to construct up to five new wetland areas; or ponds; on property owned by Carmichael Ranch; DS Ranches; the Feather River Land Trust; and Roberti Ranch by bringing water from the Little Last Chance Lake to the above-mentioned properties. The size of the ponds would be one to three acres wide in diameter and they would be constructed parallel to County Road A24; between Heriot Lane and Highway 70. This land; which was flooded and irrigated with early spring runoff before the 1960s; currently receives virtually no water; especially in dry years. Today sagebrush and non-native plants exist where meadows; ditches and canals were once filled with water and waterfowl.

General tasks that will be completed:
Assessment and evaluation of project concept with NRCS assistance.
Meet with DWR to apply for a supplemental right to divert water from Middle Fork Feather River.
Obtain signed agreements between all landowners involved in project.
Finalize design and budget.
Set project schedule and timeline.
Develop bid documents.
Select contractors.
Sponsoring Agency
Sierra Wildlife Habitat & Community Foundation (SWHCF) and Sierra Valley Resource Conservation District (SVRCD)
Primary Contact
Rick Roberti
Contact Email
Project Number
Matching Funds
None listed
Total Cost
$140,500 (Phase 1 only)
DAC Benefit
Supplemental Information
Phase 1 of the project is to restore the Little Last Chance Lake by bringing supplemental water into the lake. The outcome from this project will be that water will remain in the lake long enough for waterfowl to raise their young until they begin to fly. The lake will once again be a thriving wildlife habitat; which will benefit wildlife; stewards of the land; and the local economy in Plumas and Sierra counties. Furthermore; a full lake will create healthy surrounding meadow and riparian areas. The new wetlands constructed in Phase 2 along County Road A-24 will be strategically placed and designed to attract birders to our area from around California and beyond. Birders already know what a true gem Sierra Valley is for viewing birds; but find it difficult to watch birds from public roads. The wetland areas created in this project for viewing would have off-road access (pullouts├╣) to offer both safety and good viewing access.
DWR Resource Management Strategies
Agricultural land stewardship, Agricultural Water Use Efficiency, Conveyance - regional/local, Economic incentives, Ecosystem restoration, Flood management, Groundwater remediation/aquifer remediation, Land use planning and management, Matching water quality to water use, Recharge area protection, Surface storage - regional/local, System reoperation, Water and culture, Water transfers, Water-dependent recreation, Watershed management
Project Objectives
Address economic challenges of municipal service providers to serve customers, Build communication and collaboration among water resources stakeholders, Coordinate management of recharge areas and protect groundwater, Effectively address climate change adaptation and/or mitigation in water resources management, Enhance public awareness and understanding of water management issues and needs, Improve coordination of land use and water resources planning, Improve efficiency and reliability of water supply and infrastructure, Maximize agricultural, environmental, and municipal water use efficiency, Protect, restore, and enhance the quality of surface and groundwater resources, Restore natural hydrologic functions, Work with counties/communities/groups to maintain capacity for water-related projects, Work with DWR to develop strategies and actions for the operation of SWP facilities
Project Status
Potential Benefits
Assist the region in adapting to effects of climate change, Disadvantaged Communities, Drought Preparedness
Project Owner

To the owner of Restoration of Little Last Chance Lake and Surrounding Meadow

1 resource

  • ALS-13 1 file Added 28 Aug 2016 Little Last Chance Lake