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Posted on: December 22, 2020

Yuba Water receives $2.8 million for Yuba River habitat restoration, discusses economic development

A photo of a conveyor belt with rock being moved with thee Yuba River in the background.

Yuba Water Agency’s board of directors passed a resolution today to receive a grant worth more than $2.8 million from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for habitat restoration and flood risk reduction work on the lower Yuba River. The grant is part of the state’s Proposition 68 funding for science-based, multi-benefit projects that help Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

The funds will be used to complete the final phases of the multi-partner Hallwood Side Channel and Floodplain Restoration Project, which will enhance up to 157 acres of seasonal and year-round floodplain and side-channel habitat on the lower Yuba River. The four-phase project is designed to improve the river’s ecosystem by restoring natural river and floodplain processes, creating more food and habitat for salmon and steelhead.

“In all my years of being involved with restoration and public works projects, I can’t think of a better example of a public-private partnership than the enhancement work we’re doing at Hallwood,” said Jeff Mathews, the agency’s habitat enhancement project manager. “That remarkable partnership made us more competitive for this grant, which will allow us to continue building on the great work we’ve already accomplished.”

The project will also remove 3.2 million cubic yards of sediment, which will reduce flood risk for Yuba County by lowering water surface elevations and flow velocities during high water events. Partners on the project include Yuba Water, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, South Yuba River Citizens League, cbec eco engineering, Cramer Fish Sciences, Teichert and Western Aggregates.

Yuba County economic development priorities

During the meeting, board members also heard an update on Yuba County’s economic development efforts including recommendations from Applied Development Economics (ADE) – the consultant leading the work – on criteria for prioritizing future projects and investments. These criteria include consideration of implementation timeframes, anticipated economic benefits, required resources, potential regulatory or policy constraints and the extent to which a project can serve as a catalyst for other economic investments in Yuba County.

Based on these criteria, ADE identified four economic development strategy areas with high-catalyst potential: infrastructure and planning, education, technology and tourism. The goal of the plan is to focus all future investments in the county on high-impact projects, whether the projects are sponsored by Yuba Water, Yuba County, the cities of Wheatland or Marysville or others.

The board will meet again in the new year to discuss and workshop the plan further.

Paying tribute to outgoing board members

The board also bid farewell to Yuba Water directors Mike Leahy and Doug Lofton, who will complete their terms as directors on Jan. 4. Both were recognized by the board for their service to the agency.

“It is with great honor that this board recognizes directors Leahy and Lofton for their contributions and undeniable dedication of service to the citizens of Yuba County during a time of rapid growth and transformation for this agency,” said Randy Fletcher, Yuba Water’s board chairman. “This board is truly making a difference for Yuba County, and we’re grateful to you both for being a part of that.” 

Fellow directors and agency staff echoed Fletcher’s sentiment, commending Leahy and Lofton for their commitment to their roles over the last four years.

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