Van Norden Meadow is Now Part of the Tahoe National Forest

Van Norden Meadow, July 2017. Photo: Anna Schwyter

The Tahoe National Forest now includes 732 acres of South Yuba River headwaters. SYRCL is partnering with the Tahoe National Forest to restore Van Norden Meadow, and has received more than $1.1 million in funding for this project through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program, the National Fish and Wildlife, the Martis Fund, and the Truckee Donner Land Trust. We look forward to working together on this amazing piece of land.

We’re sharing the incredible history of how Van Norden Meadow became part of the Tahoe National Forest by re-posting this release from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) :

The Van Norden Meadow property recently became part of the Tahoe National Forest on the Truckee Ranger District. This 732-acre parcel, located just south of I-80 near Soda Springs, was acquired (along with another 2600 acres in the area) by the Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) in 2012, following one of the largest grassroots fundraising efforts in the history of the Sierras. The property, which is surrounded by four downhill ski resorts and was slated for development of hundreds of luxury condominiums and homes, went into receivership and TDLT/TPL were the successful bidders despite interest from speculators. TDLT subsequently became the sole owner of the parcel and its meadow, which have been respectively characterized as “the most important square mile in the history of the American West” and the “crown jewel” of the larger acquisition.

Van Norden Meadow, approximately 330 acres, is one of the largest sub-alpine meadows in the Sierras. It provides important habitat for bald eagles, willow flycatcher, and other threatened and endangered species, and hosts one of the richest butterfly faunas documented in North America along with another 100+ species of amphibians and birds. The meadow is situated on the edge of the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south route for migratory birds extending from Alaska to South America, and serves as prime breeding and stop-over grounds to a number of international/interstate migratory wetland species. The South Yuba River, and several tributary streams flow through the property. The land contains an unusual number of prehistoric sites, including cupules—a unique rock art feature thought to be associated with fertility and new life. The Overland Emigrant National Historic Trail also runs through the property, as the meadow is known as a resting place for emigrants crossing the Sierra. Winter recreation activities, as well as summer mountain-biking, hiking, and equestrian access are available to the public to enjoy. Now it belongs to all Americans. There are also many nationally-known Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Area fee-use trails located on this property. So, go out and enjoy. It’s all yours.

Full release and maps are located here.
Summary of SYRCL’s restoration of Van Norden Meadow located here.
For more on Van Norden, see this 2015 article by Rachel Hutchinson, River Science Director.
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