Meadow Restoration

Mountain meadows occur in relatively flat areas where sediment and water accumulates. Meadows habitats are highly diverse, sequester carbon, and often provide habitat for sensitive or threatened species. However, most meadows in the Sierra Nevada have been degraded by past human land use activities. Because meadows are of both hydrological and ecological importance, SYRCL has taken on the task of assessing and restoring meadows in the Yuba watershed.

SYRCL has provided leadership in the assessment of meadows by testing protocols developed by American Rivers, UC Davis, and the US Forest Service on seven meadows in the Yuba River watershed.  In addition, SYRCL authored Sharing Stewardship – A Guide to Involving Volunteers in the Assessment, Monitoring and Restoration of Meadows in the Sierra Nevada. Meadow assessments help SYRCL determine which meadows should be prioritized for potential future restoration actions across the Yuba watershed.

Meadows Store and Filter Water

Meadows store and filter water, releasing it slowly into the summer months when California needs it the most. Meadows that have degraded due to issues like grazing, climate change, lack of fire, timber harvesting, road and trail building are more susceptible to channel erosion and a lowered groundwater table. SYRCL now works to restore many meadows in the Yuba watershed including: Loney Meadow, Deer Meadow, Bear Trap Meadow and Van Norden Meadow.

Loney Meadow with aspen trees on the fringe
Loney Meadow with aspen trees on the edge

Meadows and Greenhouse Gas Sequestration

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.

To Learn More:

Resources for SYRCL’s Meadow Restoration Program

SYRCL receives support for our Yuba Headwaters Meadow Restoration Program from:

  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Earthwatch
  • Sierra Nevada Conservancy
  • Tahoe National Forest
  • The National Forest Foundation
  • The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
  • The Cosumnes, American, Bear, Yuba Integrated Regional Water Management Project (CABY)

Thank you to all of our partners, funders, and the volunteers who help make this program a success!