Restoration means the re-creation of something lost. The rich ecological abundance and diversity of the Yuba River watershed has been partially lost to a variety of anthropogenic (human-caused) impacts. Hydraulic mining and dams have been the largest impact, but dispersed mining and other land uses have contributed a variety of impacts including pollution, invasive species, ecological disruption and habitat loss. While actual restoration is not always achievable, remediation or rehabilitation can restore critical components of lost ecological function and thus serve to enhance habitat conditions from their current baseline.
In SYRCL’s recent strategic plan, United for the Yuba, three main goals for restoration are identified.
- Improve conditions in the Yuba River watershed so that salmon, steelhead and other wildlife thrive.
- Restore the health of mountain meadows to improve the quality of Yuba water at its source.
- Protect the Yuba River corridor from infestation by invasive species.
With the assistance or leadership of volunteers, SYRCL is actively engaged in these three areas of restoration. Join the SYRCL restoration team by signing up at the bottom of the Volunteer page. Also, look for our announcements for Restoration Days.
SYRCL works with land management agencies in planning challenging restoration projects such as mine land remediation, meadow restoration and dam removal. Dam licensing provides a complex set of opportunities, including the restoration of flows in diverted streams and rivers. The remainder of this page highlights the three aforementioned goals for SYRCL’s restoration work: rehabilitating the lower Yuba River, restoring the health of mountain meadows, and removing invasive weeds from the South Yuba corridor.
Rehabilitating the Lower Yuba River
The Lower Yuba River has been dramatically altered by hydraulic mining sediments, dredger mining, dams, levees, and alteration of flows. SYRCL is leading efforts to rehabilitate the lower Yuba River for salmon, steelhead and wildlife by developing specific project concepts and designs following a variety of assessments (geomorphic, hydraulic, riparian, etc) to inform project selection and funding. In 2011, SYRCL began implementing a pilot project for riparian enhancement at Hammon Bar. This is the first habitat restoration project to ever occur on the lower Yuba River, and our work seeks to develop many more projects built on a foundation of science and collaboration. For more information, see:
Rehabilitation Concepts for the Parks Bar to Hammon Bar Reach of the Lower Yuba River (8.5 MB, November 2010)
Restoring Mountain Meadows
Meadows are wetland areas of extremely high value for natural water storage, water quality and habitat values. Due to intensive past grazing practices throughout the Sierra Nevada, fire suppression and common hydrologic disruption, most meadows are in some state of degradation. Restoring meadows is necessary from the standpoint of water resources and habitat for sensitive and diverse native species.
SYRCL has provided leadership in the assessment of meadows by testing protocols developed at UC Davis on seven meadows in the Yuba River watershed. SYRCL also authored, Sharing Stewardship – A Guide to Involving Volunteers in the Assessment, Monitoring and Restoration of Meadows in the Sierra Nevada.
As SYRCL continues to work with Tahoe National Forest on developing comprehensive meadow restoration plans, we focus on hands-on restoration activities directed at the enhancement of Sierra aspen stands by removing encroaching conifers. Sierra aspen are hot spots for biodiversity, provide critical habitat for native birds and are just plain beautiful. Unfortunately, more than 96% of historic aspen stands have been lost due to fire suppression, conifer encroachment and other factors. SYRCL has completed several aspen regeneration projects and continues this work in our mountain meadows. Volunteer opportunities to help remove encroaching conifers and create browse deterrents from aspen stands are available in late summer months. Please visit our volunteer page to get involved.
Resources for SYRCL’s Meadow Restoration Program:
Video on SYRCL’s 2011 Aspen Restoration Project. – Produced by Tony Loro.
To learn more about Aspen Restoration, view this video by the US Forest Service.
Removing Invasive Weeds in the South Yuba corridor
Invasive weeds are non-native plants that disrupt a native habitat by dominating the landscape. These introduced species often grow in dense thickets that degrade the habitat for native wildlife and displace beneficial native plants, effectively decreasing biodiversity. Such impacts are of particular concern in sensitive areas such as riparian habitats along waterways.
SYRCL is drawing the line for invasive plants at the South Yuba River corridor. We are collaborating with California State Parks, the Bureau of Land Management, private land owners and other conservation groups. This ambitious goal calls for SYRCL’s proven ability to unite the community – and we are calling on all river lovers to join us in this effort to rid our local environment of invasive weeds.
Resources for SYRCL’s Invasive Weed Removal Program:
SYRCL Takes the Scotch Broom Challenge (2013) – read about our 2013 Scotch Broom Challenge day.
Listen and learn more information about Scotch Broom from our KVMR interview!