Watershed Resilience and Forest Health

Yuba Water Agency’s core mission areas rely heavily on the condition of our upper Yuba River watershed. However, the ecosystem health and resilience of the watershed are increasingly at risk and the forests are unhealthy. Much like most of the Sierra Nevada foothills and mountains, the forests are overstocked with small trees and brush and are at risk of high-severity, catastrophic wildfire due to historic fire suppression and timber harvesting practices. The situation is increasingly exacerbated by climate change, which has led to increased fire risk from drier and hotter conditions, weakened forests with more dead and dying trees and an ever-lengthening fire season. As a result, communities and infrastructure within the watershed are at significant risk. 

Forests once characterized by large, widely-spaced trees with frequent large meadows and beneficial, low-to-moderate severity fire are now dominated by non-fire resilient stands of vegetation, ranging from dense thickets of small trees and brush to overstocked forests with significant ladder fuels, vegetation ranging in size that provide a “ladder” for the fire to climb from the forest floor into the tree canopies. This greatly increases the likelihood of destructive wildfire causing significant damage to communities and watershed health. In addition, many homes and communities have been built within and near forests, making it challenging in some locations to protect lives and property from high-severity wildfire and to use prescribed fire or managed wildfire as a management tool.

To combat this, Yuba Water launched its trailblazing Watershed Resilience Program to develop strategies to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire in the region, protecting residents, communities and water supply.

Through innovative partnerships and creative funding mechanisms, Yuba Water and its partners are working at an unprecedented scale to collaboratively plan, analyze, finance and implement forest restoration across the watershed. Learn more about the projects were involved in below.