The North Yuba Forest Partnership is a diverse group of nine organizations, including SYRCL, passionate about forest health and the resilience of the North Yuba River watershed. Together, the partners are working on an unprecedented scale to collaboratively plan, analyze, finance, and implement forest restoration across 275,000 acres (about half the area of Yosemite National Park) of the watershed.
Through ecologically based thinning and prescribed fire, the partnership seeks to protect North Yuba communities from the threat of catastrophic wildfire and restore the watershed to a healthier, more resilient state. Restoration efforts are expected to take many years, if not decades to complete, with the most critical project areas targeted first, i.e., at-risk communities, emergency response, evacuation access routes, and treatments to areas that have the potential to stop a wildfire from spreading.
The North Yuba watershed stretches from New Bullards Bar Reservoir east up to the Sierra Crest along Highway 49. The Project Landscape is approximately 313,000 acres, of which approximately 210,000 acres are National Forest System lands within Sierra County, with just the westernmost portions of the project area in Yuba County. The area includes thousands of acres of forest habitat, is an important source of water to downstream users, supports high biodiversity, is home to many communities, and offers excellent opportunities for recreation.
On July 12, 2023, Tahoe National Forest issued the record of decision (ROD) for its North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project. The Forest Service and partners will now begin implementing the 275,000-acre vegetation and fuels management project in the North Yuba watershed over the next 15 to 20 years. The project aims to improve forest health, protect communities, and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire within the project area.
Tahoe National Forest Supervisor Eli Ilano signed the North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project record of decision in the Sierra County board chambers in Downieville, Calif. Community members and North Yuba Forest Partnership members commemorated the accomplishment.
“After several years of planning for this project and working toward signing a decision, I would like to credit the hard work of Forest Service staff and our partners for helping us get here,” said Ilano. “Because of the dedication of individuals that have come together with a common goal, we are now able to move forward with the work so desperately needed on the North Yuba Landscape.”
The ROD is the last step in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental impact statement process before a federal agency may implement a project. Significant public outreach including multiple public comment periods was completed during the NEPA process for the NYLRP, which began in 2021. Planning for the project began in 2018.
The North Yuba Landscape was selected for investment in 2022 as part of the Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy and has received $160 million of federal funding to implement wildfire risk reduction work in the watershed. In addition, partners that comprise the North Yuba Forest Partnership have contributed additional funding and resources to increase the pace and scale of this forest health work. The landscape includes substantial forest habitat, is an important source of water to downstream users, supports high biodiversity, offers excellent opportunities for recreation, and is home to the communities of Camptonville, Downieville and Sierra City.
To learn more about the North Yuba Forest Partnership, visit their website here.
To learn more about the North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project (NYLRP), click here.
To find out more about SYRCL’s involvement in Forest Management and Restoration click here.