Restoring Van Norden Meadow, Protecting Cultural Resources

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SYRCL and the Tahoe National Forest are working with partners from The Truckee Donner Land Trust, Sugar Bowl, cbec, The Washoe Tribe, University of Nevada Reno, UC Davis and others to restore Van Norden Meadow. Our main goal is to restore the stream channels and floodplain at Van Norden Meadow. Additionally, the team is also working to protect cultural resources and enhance recreational opportunities within and around the meadow. The restoration of hydrologic connectivity at Van Norden Meadow is expected to improve wildlife habitat, along with other ecosystem benefits—like increased groundwater storage, improved water quality, increased carbon storage, and increased resilience to climate change.

In the fall of 2019 a beaver dam was documented in Van Norden Meadow along the main stem of the South Yuba River.

Project Status

In 2019 SYRCL received a $1.9m grant from California Department of Fish and Wildlife to complete restoration designs, implement the restoration project, and conduct monitoring. In 2020, the project team will be working towards 65% restoration designs, asking for stakeholder and public feedback, and continuing to collect baseline data. In the fall of 2020 SYRCL and the Tahoe National Forest will hold a public stakeholder meeting to receive comments on conceptual restoration designs. Public participation is an important part of the process; the valuable community insight we received in the public meetings in 2017 helped to reshape our restoration concepts. We will also be updating the public on our monitoring results as the team has been collecting baseline data at Van Norden Meadow since 2013. This data collection effort is critically important in order to document both the need for, and the benefits of, restoration. Based on current project status, we anticipate that restoration implementation will occur in fall of 2022.

South Yuba River stream channel surveys at Van Norden Meadow with Earthwatch High School Students.

Long Term Monitoring

One of the major goals of the Van Norden restoration project is to study the effects of restoration on the ecosystem. In order to do this, we have been working to understand the following attributes: groundwater storage, surface water flows, carbon storage, greenhouse gas flux, vegetation composition and diversity, amphibian presence and presence of sensitive bird species such as the Willow Fly catcher. Our monitoring program also incorporates volunteers, citizen scientists, and students. This in depth look at a complex system such as Van Norden Meadow will provide insight into how restoration efforts can improve important ecosystem services and will illuminate the relationship between hydrologic connectivity and carbon storage.

We look forward to sharing our progress and including you along the way! Stay tuned for more updates including notifications for the date of our public outreach meeting this fall. If you would like more information about the project please contact Alecia Weisman, River Science Project Manager at SYRCL [email protected] or Rachel Hutchinson, East Zone Watershed Program Manager for the Tahoe National Forest [email protected].

This project is funded by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Truckee Donner Land Trust, and The Martis Fund.

Monitoring early season inundation and flow in the meadow to calibrate our surface inundation modeling efforts.
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  1. Ray Bryars says:

    I look forward to being able to participate in this restoration. I helped out a little at Loney Meadows and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

  2. Diana Gardener says:

    I would like to be kept up to date on whats going on with this and any volunteer opportunities.

  3. Peter Wiley says:

    Are you going to be employing the “Plug and Pond” method that Randy Westmoreland detailed at one of the meetings at Sugar Bowl?

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