Cooperative Watershed Management

The ability of SYRCL to protect and restore the Yuba River is dependent upon the effectiveness of our collaboration with a variety of stakeholders and organizations which own or manage portions of the watershed, as well as other conservation groups. The River Science Program at SYRCL actively participates in each of the following cooperative management groups:

Yuba Bear Watershed Council

The Yuba Bear Watershed Council has been a friendly host to a large variety of stakeholders and organizations interested in coordinating activities within the Bear and Yuba Watershed. With support from the California Department of Conservation, SYRCL re-initiated the Council in 2010 following a lapse in meetings.  With the capacity of a Watershed Coordinator provided by Americorps, and a commitment to the Yuba Strategy, SYRCL will continue to be a leader in this forum, contributing to collaborative projects and informational products.

Foothills Water Network

The Foothills Water Network represents a collaboration of conservation groups in the Yuba, Bear, and American River watersheds. The Network facilitates the integration of watershed issues and interests into a region-wide movement to change the course of water and energy management in the Sierra Foothills. By active participation in FWN and the California Hydropower Reform Coalition, SYRCL amplifies its voice and capacity for restoration of the Greater Yuba River Watershed through the federal re-licensing (and State Water Board re-permitting) of hydropower projects owned by PG&E, the Nevada Irrigation District and the Yuba County Water Agency.

The Yuba Accord

The Yuba Accord includes a Fisheries Agreement which establishes a River Management Team (including representatives of signatory groups –Yuba County Water Agency, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, California Department of Fish and Game, California Department of Water Resources, and four non-governmental signatories) to cooperatively manage the flows of the Yuba River according to certain guidance criteria, and also allocate funds for the monitoring and evaluation of the condition of fish and fish habitat. SYRCL is the sole non-governmental organization to consistently and actively participate in the River Management Team.

Lower Yuba Technical Working Group

The Lower Yuba River Technical Working Group was formed in 1998 as part of an amendment to PG&E’s license to operate their Yuba Narrrows project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recognized the need for an information sharing forum to facilitate discussion on a variety of technical issues concerning the management of the lower Yuba River. The TWG is an open information sharing body which has met up to 4 times per year, but less frequently since the establishment of the River Management Team. SYRCL supports this broader stakeholder forum and typically provides  announcements and presentations to the TWG concerning our watershed coordination activities and restoration project developments.

The Yuba Salmon Forum

The reintroduction of salmon to the Upper Yuba River watershed will require large investments by multiple resources and stakeholders, including the Army Corps of Engineers and at least four major utilities managing flows and diversions in the watershed.  The Yuba Salmon Forum convened in 2009 to address reintroduction planning in a forum with a charter and full participation.  SYRCL participates in this forum through partnership with other conservation groups and directly on the Technical Working Group investigating physical scenarios and habitat availability.

Upper Yuba River Studies Program

The Upper Yuba River Studies Program was initiated in response to proposals by SYRCL to investigate the feasibility of restoring salmon and steelhead populations to the Yuba River watershed above Englebright Dam. With funding by CalFed, management by the California Department of Water Resources and input from a variety of stakeholders the program developed a comprehensive list of studies and an ambitious work plan in 2001. The program exhausted $9M of funding in seven years and was not renewed for funding after CalFed budget restrictions took effect in 2007. Due to the persistence of SYRCL and partners such as American Rivers, the program did publish the Upper Yuba River Watershed Chinook Salmon and Steelhead Habitat Assessment Report which concludes that there is sufficient habitat existing in the upper Middle Yuba and South Yuba rivers to support restoration of salmon and steelhead populations.

Yuba-Feather Workgroup

SYRCL lobbied for Proposition 13, the state water bond, in conjunction with the Wild and Scenic campaign in 1999. The bond allocates $70 million for non-dam flood-protection projects on the Yuba and Feather Rivers and sets aside an additional $20 million to mitigate resulting impacts on fish, wildlife, and riparian habitat. The Yuba City/Marysville area, situated where the lower Yuba joins the Feather River, has a history of catastrophic flooding. The Yuba-Feather Workgroup was formed to evaluate environmentally-sound methods of achieving greater flood protection. SYRCL and Yuba County initiated the workgroup, and other members include the Water Agencies in Yuba and Sutter Counties, the Department of Water Resources, Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Friends of the River, and the Sierra Club.

Sacramento River Watershed Program

SYRCL is a coalition member in the Sacramento River Watershed Program, and this partnership represents one part of our efforts to work for the whole Yuba River, from headwaters to the Golden Gate. We have also partnered with the Bay Institute in our work with the Yuba Accord and Bay-Delta aspects of our campaign for Salmon.