Category Archives: Ajumawi State Park

Tribal Youth Program teaches knowledge and skill

Photos courtesy of Lomakatsi Restoration Project

This July, ten young members of the Pit River Tribe ranging in age from 14-18 participated in a month long work and training program. The project combined science and cultural education with work to restore the ecology of the wild trout area of lower Hat Creek.

Tribal Youth, Elders, and Program Partners on opening day of the Pit River Tribal Ecosystem Workforce Training Program

Tribal Youth, Elders, and Program Partners on opening day of the Pit River Tribal Ecosystem Workforce Training Program

The Pit River Tribe, Lomakatsi Restoration Project, and Cal Trout cooperated to make the project a success. Cal Trout provided a grant to pay for the program. Pit River Tribe elders, cultural representatives and environmental technicians instructed the youth in Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Lomakatsi managed the program and employed the youth, providing technical expertise and professional mentors in ecological restoration.

The project included a full schedule of educational and hands-on activities.

The young people spent a week at a science camp at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed learning about the waterways, flora, and the fauna of the area.

The work project on Hat Creek involved trail improvement, restabilizing the banks, and helping to restore the natural oak environment along the creek. Belinda Brown, Tribal Partnership Coordinator for Lomakatsi Restoration Project, organized the work crews, picking up the young workers in the morning at the Safeway store and supervised their activities thoughout the day.

Trail improvement along Hat Creek

Trail improvement along Hat Creek

The group also visited Ajumawi Springs to study and repair fish traps.

Ginger Mike, Cultural Representative of the Ajumawi Band, shared about the importance of cultural resource protection and sacred sites.

Ginger Mike shares about the importance of cultural resource protection and sacred sites

Ginger Mike teaching about cultural resource protection and sacred sites

Participants learned about traditional foods such as pine nuts. The Hat Creek Ranger Station also addressed the group. In addition, the young people received some instruction in Achomawi language.

As a complement to learning traditional Pit River environmental technology, the young people were also treated to a day of fly fishing. Michelle Titus hosted the group at Clearwater Lodge and Drew Braugh from Cal Trout and three guides taught the young people fly fishing techniques.

Toward the end of the program the group was joined by tribal youth from the Ashland area in Southern Oregon. Radley Davis, Cultural Practitioner of the Illmawi Band, led a workshop teaching the young people to make a dugout canoe from a giant cedar tree trucked over from Old Station.

Dug out canoe workshop

Dug out canoe workshop

The program concluded with a visit by the combined youth programs to Burney Falls a traditional sacred site of the Illmawi Band of the Pit River Tribe.

Tribal Youth Project at Burney Falls

Tribal Youth and Ashland Youth Programs at Burney Falls

The Pit River Tribe is a sovereign federally recognized Native American Tribe consisting of 11 autonomous bands, whose homes and properties are distributed throughout the Upper Pit River watershed in northern California for time immemorial. The tribe contributed immensely to the success of the project.

“Protection and preservation of the cultural and environmental resources helps the tribe maintain sovereign jurisdiction over the tribe’s ancestral lands,” Chairman Gemmill said. “The partnerships have been able to provide economic and educational opportunities for the people.”

Lomakatsi in the Hopi language means “life in balance.” The Lomakatsi Restoration Project is a non‐profit, grassroots organization that develops and implements forest and watershed restoration programs and projects in Oregon and Northern California. Since 1995, Lomakatsi has formed collaborative partnerships with a broad range of partners including federal and state land management agencies, Native American Tribes, The Nature Conservancy, land trusts, private landowners, watershed councils, and city and county governments.

“Inspiring young people to pursue careers focused on the stewardship of forests, waterways and wildlife habitat is an important part of our mission,” Lomakatsi Executive Director Marko Bey said. “Traditional Ecological Knowledge is vital to successful ecosystem restoration.”


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Filed under Ajumawi State Park, Burney, Burney Falls, Hat Creek, Lake Britton, Pit River Tribe

Australian Sam stops for the night in Burney

I took Linda over to the Hearthstone Health Food store to unload some things. Linda is planning to have a mini Art Show in the Gift Shop for Burney Basin Days.

As I was finishing unloading the car a cheerful looking man with a back pack happened by.  His name is Sam. He is from Sydney, Australia. He’s hiking the PCT trail. He on his way back to the trail head to put in a days hike. I offered him a ride.

The author with Austrailan Sam at Hearthstone Healthfoods

The author with Austrailan Sam at Hearthstone Healthfoods

Sam flew from Australia to LA, where he visited a friend for a week. On April 7, he began the hike north from Mexico. He hiked through the desert and began hiking the Sierras on May 11. At places in the Sierra’s there was 12 feet of snow.

Sam’s normal pace is 25 miles a day. It was a little bit slower through the Sierras because of the snow. At one point he stopped for a five-day break. Once he got to the Cascades, his pace picked up. Yesterday he hiked 35 miles.

He has seen several bears. On his way back to the trail (I think near Mammoth Lakes in Mono County) there was a mama bear with two cubs. That made Sam a bit cautious because he knows that Mama’s can be very protective of their cubs.

Just then, however, a bicyclist came careening down the road talking on his cell phone, totally oblivious to the bear. As he approached the bears, Mama looked up at the approaching rider and scuttled her cubs off into the woods, clearing the road for Sam.

Sam expects to make it to the Canadian border by mid-August. Then he’s headed to India. He plans to attend a mountaineering school from September 15 – October 16 and then hike for awhile in the mountains of Nepal.

Now doesn’t that sound like an exciting life?

Sam has hiked a lot in the back country of Australia. He said that on those trails you see very few people. On the PCT he sees people almost every day. He’s ahead of the pack. A lot of hikers farther south paused to wait for the snow to melt. Many of the hostels are full and there are several places where the trail is jammed up with people.

So I guess we’ll have a lot more hikers coming through Burney.

Sam said he likes Burney. A young couple gave him a ride into the town and gave him a place to stay for the night.

I drove Sam out to the trailhead on 299.

I’m glad he liked Burney.
I wished him a great journey.

Hey! That rhymes.


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Filed under Ajumawi State Park, Burney, Pacific Crest Trail

What is Pit River Country?

The Pit River is the largest river system in Northern California. It  flows from Goose Lake north of Alturas to the Sacramento River near Redding. As it flows toward the Sacramento, it is fed by 21 named tributaries. All together the system totals more than 1000 miles of streams and consists of a watershed of about 4,324

"PitRiverMap" by Background layer attributed to DEMIS Mapserver, modified by Shannon1 - Background from Licensed under GFDL via Commons -

“PitRiverMap” by Background layer attributed to DEMIS Mapserver, modified by Shannon1 – Background from Licensed under GFDL via Commons –

square miles. On the maps of the earliest fur traders it was known as the Upper Sacramento.

When it passes Fall River Valley, it is fed by the springs of Ajumawi State Park and the Fall River. Then, at Lake Britton, it is fed by Hat Creek, which flows from MT Lassen down through Hat Creek Valley; and Burney Creek, which flows through Burney and Black Ranch and then over the falls in McArthur-Burney Falls State Park. After that, it flows down to Big Bend, where there are wonderful hot springs.

I call the land and the communities in this watershed Pit River Country. It corresponds to the traditional lands of the Pit River Tribe. Some of the towns in this region are Burney, Fall River Mills, McArthur, Old Station, Montgomery Creek, Round Mountain, and Big Bend.


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Filed under Ajumawi State Park, Big Bend, Burney, Burney Falls, Fall River, Fall River Mills, Hat Creek, Johnson Park, Lake Britton, McCloud River, Montgomery Creek, Pit River, Pit River Area History, Pit River Country Events, Pit River Tribe

Flatwater Kayaking in Pit River Country

Article by Alex Colvin 05/27/15 — As the Pit River flows through eastern Shasta County, it is fed by the springs and streams of Fall River Valley and Hat Creek, creating numerous delightful locations for flatwater kayaking. Ahjumawi State Park, Baum Lake, Lake Britton, and selected areas of the Pit River around Hwy. 299 provide opportunities to experience natural beauty and wildlife while paddling serenely over the water.

Deer, raccoons, coyote, otters, muskrat, and beaver thrive in the area. Bald eagles, osprey, and a variety of hawks soar above. American pelicans, egrets, great blue heron, grebes, geese, and ducks frequent the waters. The area offers incredible views of the Cascades, including Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen.

Ahjumawi is a word from the language of the Pit River Native Americans who inhabit the area. It means “Where the waters come together.” Water from the snowmelt of Medicine Lake Volcano forms one of the largest systems of underground springs in the country. These springs feed over a billion gallons of water a day into Eastman Lake, Big Lake, Tule River, Ja-She Creek, Lava Creek, and Fall River.

Donna Sylvester's grandaughter Lexi on Baum Lake - Photo by Donna Sylvester

Donna Sylvester’s grandaughter, Lexie, on Baum Lake, photo by Donna Sylvester

According to Donna Sylvester, certified Kayak instructor and owner of Eagle Eyes Kayak, “Spring and early summer is the best time to Kayak, especially on Lake Britton and Ahjumawi State Park. Baum Lake is great anytime!” Sylvester instructs and guides kayakers on waterways in the Pit River area. She has 21 kayaks, so she can provide a kayak tailored to the skill, safety, and comfort of each person. For visitors to the area who want to kayak but don’t need a guide, she provides rentals.

The Jiminez Family Kayaking - Photo by Donna Sylvester

The Jimenez Family kayaking, photo by Donna Sylvester

Recently, on May 24, Sylvester guided Paul Jimenez, his wife Lily, and his two cousins Paz and Anna Ruth on a kayak trip in Ahjumawi State Park. Jimenez said he was very pleased at how patiently Sylvester instructed them. The group paddled through Horr Pond up the Tule River to Ja-She Creek. Along the way, Jimenez saw deer, ducks including a cinnamon teal, a white egret, a blue heron, pelicans, geese, a muskrat, and a sunbathing snake. He was also very impressed by the beautiful views of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen. After returning to his home in San Mateo and reflecting on the experience, Jimenez says, “Mejor seria imposible.” (Better would have been impossible!)

To learn more about Eagle Eyes Kayak click here.

Alex Colvin is co-owner of The Lace Gallery in Burney, California. He previously wrote for non-profit corporations in the Washington-Baltimore Metropolitan Area. Since returning to Burney, where he has deep family roots, Alex and his wife Linda have dedicated themselves to exploring and photographing the natural beauty of Northern California.

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Filed under Ajumawi State Park, Baum Lake, Crystal Lake, Fall River, Hat Creek, Kayaking, Pit River Area History, Pit River Tribe