Restoration is the re-creation of something that was lost. Ecological restoration refers to “restoring degraded, damaged, or destroyed ecosystems and habitats in the environment by active human intervention and action.” The rich ecological diversity of the Yuba River watershed is at risk due to a variety of anthropogenic (human-caused) impacts, such as hydraulic and dispersed mining, dams, and development. These impacts have fragmented habitat for terrestrial and aquatic species, altered climatic conditions, and introduced pollutants and invasive species to the Yuba River watershed. While complete restoration is not always achievable, remediation or rehabilitation can restore critical components of lost ecological function and serve to enhance habitat conditions for important species.
The Lower Yuba River has been dramatically altered by hydraulic mining sediments, dredger mining, dams, levees, and alteration of flows. SYRCL is leading the effort to rehabilitate the lower Yuba River for salmon, steelhead, riparian habitat, and wildlife. We are actively working to assess the current condition (geomorphic, hydraulic, riparian, etc.) of the Lower Yuba River and are using that information to develop and implement projects that provide direct benefits to the species and habitats that are emblematic of the Lower Yuba River. Read more
Mountain meadows are wetland areas of extremely high value for natural water storage, water quality and wildlife habitat. Due to intensive grazing practices, fire suppression and hydrologic modifications, a majority of meadows throughout the Sierra Nevada are in some state of degradation. Restoring meadows is necessary from the standpoint of conserving and protecting the state’s water resources and as important habitat for sensitive native species. Read more
Invasive species are non-native plants, aquatic life, and animals that disrupt the natural environment by dominating the ecosystem or landscape. Invasive species compete with native species for habitat and resources and displace native wildlife and beneficial native plants, effectively decreasing biodiversity. Such impacts are of particular concern in sensitive areas such as riparian habitats along the Yuba River. Read more
Did you know that restoring meadows in the Sierra Nevada can provide multiple ecosystem benefits? As we move toward our fifth year of drought, it is critical to begin to achieve innovative ways to alter our land-use and management. As natural water-retention basins, meadows attenuate floods, sustain stream base flows, improve water quality, and support vegetation that stabilizes stream channels and promotes biodiversity. Read more
Mountain meadows in the Sierra Nevada provide multiple ecosystem services including a natural storage for atmospheric carbon. Research has shown that meadows contain at least two times more carbon, nitrogen, dissolved organic carbon, and dissolved organic nitrogen than degraded meadows. Restoring mountain meadows has the potential to increase soil organic carbon sequestration, creating a region-wide carbon sink that will help offset CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use. Read more
Meadow ecosystems are defined by the presence of shallow groundwater, a high water table, and dominated by herbaceous species. Functioning montane meadows offer abundant ecosystem services including natural water filtration and groundwater storage. As groundwater recharge dwindles during the dry California summer months, groundwater storage from mountain meadows is slowly released into streams. Today, many meadows in the Sierra Nevada are considered degraded and suffer from incised streams, low water tables, and encroachment of upland plant communities. Read more
With the assistance and leadership from volunteers, SYRCL is actively engaged in these areas of restoration. Join the SYRCL restoration team by contacting SYRCL’s Restoration Coordinator, Courtney Hudson, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, look out for Restoration Day announcements on Facebook and in our enewsletter.