Omega Hydraulic Mine, South Yuba. Photo by Hank Meals

February 18, 2019 – Historic and ongoing attempts to domesticate the environment, both with and without intention, have created much of the landscape that we know today, says Archaeologist Hank Meals.

This theme will be the topic of a presentation for the Sierra Club – Sierra Nevada Group by Hank Meals called “Cultural Landscapes: How Humans Have Shaped the Topography and Drainage Systems of the Yuba and Bear River Watersheds” to be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7 at the Seaman’s Lodge, Pioneer Park in Nevada City.

“While most of us are aware of the obvious physical elements of Yuba and Bear River country, there are a surprising number of landscapes within the watersheds that have been created by human agency. Some of the changes have been deliberate while others were inadvertent – most of them sprung from what were once considered good ideas,” said Meals.

Petroglyphs near Meadow Lake, South Yuba . Photo by Hank Meals

Hank Meals is an archaeologist, historian, author, and photographer who has walked the ridges and streams of the Yuba and Bear River basins for the past 50 years.

The talk is part of a new roadshow menu of presentations that Meals is offering the community. In addition, he has teamed up with Hiking For Good to lead a full calendar of guided hikes with a cultural landscape theme, exploring and examining the watersheds of the Yuba, Bear and American River every month in 2019, beginning with a trip to Spenceville Wildlife Area on Feb. 16 and a visit to lower Deer Creek and Black Swan Preserve on March 16.

“Here on the western slope of the north-central Sierra Nevada we are surrounded by the proximity of the past. The Yuba and Bear River watersheds have been manipulated by various groups of people for their own needs and desires for thousands of years. A great deal of past human influence is still visible in the landscape and historic practices continue to affect its functioning, particularly in the areas of water management and fire suppression policies. Inherent in the region’s cultural geography are stories that speak to indigenous activities, gold mining, water conveyance systems, lumbering, transportation and freighting, homesteading, hydroelectricity, irrigation, grazing, fire suppression and recreation management,” said Meals.

WHAT: Cultural Landscapes: How Humans Have Shaped the Topography and Drainage Systems of the Yuba and Bear River Watersheds
WHO: Sierra Club – Sierra Nevada Group
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7
WHERE: Seaman’s Lodge, Pioneer Park, Nevada City
TICKETS: $10 suggested donation at the door