Update: Van Norden Meadow Restoration Project 

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Van Norden Meadow on track for Restoration in Summer of 2022 

van norden meadow

On May 26th the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) was awarded $3.7 million from the Wildlife Conservation Board’s Forest Conservation grant program to implement Phase One of restoration of Van Norden Meadow (Yayalu Itdeh in Washoe) in partnership with Tahoe National Forest (TNF). 

The 485-acre meadow is located at the headwaters of the South Yuba River. SYRCL and TNF are focusing on restoring Van Norden because it is one of the largest meadows on the west side of the Northern Sierra and is critical for water storage, water quality, wildlife habitat, and forest resiliency. Healthy functioning meadows can also store as much carbon acre-for-acre as a rainforest. 

“Restoring Van Norden Meadow is critical, as prolonged droughts associated with climate change continue to endanger high elevation wetland habitat in the Sierra Nevada” said Alecia Weisman, SYRCL’s River Science Program Manager. “The funds come at a crucial time for us and are essential to making a significant impact.” 

The restoration project is currently predicted to take two years and will include filling in the deep channels that are vulnerable to and perpetuate erosion, removing and thinning encroaching conifers, improving willow and aspen habitat, creating beaver dam analogs (human-made structures that function like beaver dams), and removing invasive species.  

“We are incredibly excited to move forward with this important project” said Rachel Hutchinson, Sierraville District Ranger at Tahoe National Forest. “We have been working with SYRCL and other partners to monitor baseline conditions and develop plans to restore the meadow and provide recreation opportunities since 2013. Our project plans have been informed by the latest scientific information as well as public input.” 

The first phase of implementation will start this July and will extend into October, with an active work period of 14 to 18 weeks. Additional restoration work and recreation focused work will be completed in the summers of 2023 and 2024 between June 15th and October 15th. Scientists will monitor the project’s outcomes and anticipated benefits to hydrology, ecology, and carbon storage through 2026. 

SYRCL would not have been able to secure funding for implementation from the Wildlife Conservation Board without initial financial support from the following funders: The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Truckee Donner Land Trust, The Tahoe National Forest, The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s California Climate Investments, Placer County Tourism Master Plan grant program, and The Martis Fund—a collaborative project of Martis Camp landowners, DMB/Highlands Group (the developers of Martis Camp), Mountain Area Preservation (MAP), and Sierra Watch. SYRCL would also like to acknowledge landowners, Boreal Ridge Corporation, and Sugar Bowl Corporation for their participation in this large-scale meadow restoration effort. 

The Van Norden Meadow Restoration project is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities. 

To learn more about the project, please join us for an Open House on Wednesday, June 29th from 9-11:30 – contact alecia@yubariver.org to register. 

More information about the project is available at yubariver.org.

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