The Bumpy Road of Meadow Restoration

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It’s been a busy year for meadow restoration at SYRCL!  We are nearing the end of the field season and are happy to report that, through our partnership with the Tahoe National Forest, we’ve been able to restore 3 meadows this season: Beartrap Meadow (North Yuba), Deer Meadow (South Yuba), and Blackjack Fen (Middle Yuba) and have continued to remove invasive weeds at Bear Glade Meadow (Middle Yuba).  That is over 100 acres of meadows restored in 2018.

Groundwater well installation at Beartrap Meadow.

Beartrap Meadow

Beartrap Meadow is a steep meadow in the headwaters of the North Yuba watershed. This meadow has been impacted over time by a road that runs uphill along its northern edge. Roads above meadows can reroute water away from the meadow, depriving the meadow of important surface and subsurface water resources.

In addition, culverts can concentrate otherwise dispersed flows into meadows causing gullying in stream channels leading to and within the meadow.  Thus, the timing and amount of water inputs into the meadow can be disrupted.


A Forest Service Hydrologist observes the restoration crew de-compacting roads and filling ditches at Deer Meadow.

Deer Meadow

Deer Meadow is part of our greenhouse gas monitoring network, acting as the “degraded control” in our before, after, control, impact (BACI) design to better understand how carbon and greenhouse gas changes after restoration.

The uphill areas of Deer Meadow were restored in 2018 to reduce the impacts of old roads and ditches. While Deer Meadow is very different than Beartrap Meadow, both suffer from similar issues.



Road work at Beartrap and Deer Meadow sought to reduce the impacts of roads on meadows through a number of techniques:

A rolling dip and out-sloped road to improve drainage along a road above Beartrap Meadow.
  • Rolling dips so that water captured by roads is pushed downhill more frequently. This allows less concentrated flows on the road, thus water has decreased erosive energy when it leaves the road.
  • Out-sloping encourages water movement in the direction of the slope surrounding slope rather than along the road so that water continues along its original path.
  • De-compaction on closed roads that are no longer being used can increase water infiltration along old road beds.
  • French drains for open roads in locations that intercept discharge slopes allow intercepted subsurface flow to re-infiltrate and continue downslope.

In addition, we worked on two projects in the Middle Yuba watershed, removing star thistle at Bear Glade Meadow in the Middle Yuba watershed with assistance from CHIRP and worked with the Tahoe National Forest to install a fence that will protect 12 miles of Blackjack Fen, a highly sensitive area in the Middle Yuba.

We are excited to see how these restorations will help improve the hydrologic regime at our restored meadows. We continue to collect data on the ground water and plant species within our meadows and look forward to sharing this with you next year and beyond!

We would like to thank our funders: California Department of Fish and Wildlife, National Forest Foundation, Tahoe National Forest RAC Grant, The Department of Water Resources and the CABY RWMG, and The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

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