Winter / Spring 2011
Highlights of the 2010 Season
at Panther Meadows
by resident naturalist Johnny Dame and meadow monitor Garth Balazs
Spring came late to Panther Meadows in 2010, as predicted from the observations of Heather Vole activity the autumn
of 2009. The intense winter storm in January 2010 (which
broke records for precipitation and
caused so much damage to the town
of Mount Shasta and the adjacent
forests), did not appear to affect the
forest around Panther Meadows.
With one of the best snowpacks
in many years, winter conditions
held strong on the Mountain well
into summer, and Everett Memorial
Highway didn’t open beyond Bunny
Flat until July 26.
In the course of the season,
we were priviledged to witness the
amazing song of the Hermit Thrush,
several observations of a cinnamon
colored mother Black Bear and her
three cubs, and some spectacular
sightings of a Bald Eagle, a Golden
Eagle, and a White-Tailed Kite, as
well as the Goshawk that hovered
between Panther and Sand Flat all
summer long. These are only a few
examples of the ongoing wildlife
show to which we were treated daily.
Due to the late snow-melt, all
wildflower activity was four to six
weeks later than normal. The heather
bloomed in Panther Meadows after the snowmelt with a
torrent of bright pink-purple flowers which stayed nearly half
the season. By far the most impressive show this year was the
Red Indian Paintbrush, which covered vast stretches of the
meadows for four weeks.
On August 29 we had our first late summer freeze,
with the Purple Asters’ bloom signaling the beginning of
the autumn phase. Then on September 18 a weather system
moved in, dumping an enormous amount of rain at Panther
The campground stayed full well into Indian Summer. On
10/10/10, we got a taste of what the 2012 phenomenon might
be like. 10/10/10 was a world-wide event that had been heavily publicized. We were not prepared for somewhere between
400 and 500 visitors that came, some from as far away as
New Zealand and Poland, to participate in the event!
During the third week of October, Heather Vole activity
in the meadow increased dramatically, as did the gathering
activities of both Ground Squirrels and Clark’s Nutcrackers.
On October 22 and 23, moisture from the Pacific and freezing temperatures brought significant snowfall to Panther
Meadows, bringing a peaceful close to the season.
Thanks to all the Ecology Center Volunteers, as well as
the dedicated Forest Service employees. These caring and
dedicated people have shown again and again that we’re on
the correct path to preserving Panther Meadows and the surrounding areas for future visitors to enjoy for many generations to come!
Volunteers restoring Panther Meadows ‘Friends of Mountain Meadows’ is created Photo by D.G. Balazs
Volunteers restoring Panther Meadows
At the end of last summer, a new sub-project, “Friends
of Mountain Meadows,” was created. It will serve as a forum
for training volunteers and as a vehicle for donations to make
improvements at Panther Meadows and campground and also
at South Gate (formerly Squaw) Meadows.
meadow monitoring and campground duties will be especially needed in 2012, when we expect a large influx of visitors.
A committee has been created consisting of Johnny
Dame, Resident Naturalist for the Forest Service; Kai Allen,
Recreation Officer for the Forest Service; and Garth Balazs
for the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center. Some of
the needs identified at Panther Meadows are five new picnic
tables (at $500 each), structural improvements to the restroom (estimated at $500), and interpretive signage ($6,000).
The project has a special account under the Mount
Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit
status, where people who love the meadows can make
donations. Checks can be made out to “MSBEC—Friends
of Mountain Meadows” and sent to MSBEC, PO Box 1143,
Mount Shasta, CA 96067. Or, donate online via PayPal at
www.mountshastaecology.org. Specify “Friends of Mountain
Meadows” in your PayPal transaction comments box.
Panther Meadows in Spring