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.
In SYRCL’s recent strategic plan, United for the Yuba, three main goals for restoration are identified.
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. Learn more about SYRCL’s Lower Yuba Rehabilitation Projects.
Improving the operations of hydropower projects in the Yuba River watershed will result in significant restoration of river and stream conditions. See the Dam Licensing page to learn more about this type of restoration work and how SYRCL is leading the way.
2. Restore the health of mountain meadows to improve the quality of Yuba water at its source.
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. Learn more about SYRCL’s Mountain Meadows Restoration.
3. Protect the Yuba River corridor from infestation by invasive species.
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. Learn more about SYRCL’s Invasive Weed Removal.
With the assistance by and leadership from 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.