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Posted on: April 21, 2022

North Yuba Forest Partnership awarded $34.8 million for forest work in Yuba River watershed

A photo of a forest.

The North Yuba Forest Partnership is set to receive millions in federal funding to support the implementation of forest restoration treatments in the North Yuba River watershed, which will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and improve the overall health and resilience of the forest. The funding was announced by the U.S. Forest Service in two separate releases over the last week.

On Apr. 12, United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore announced that the North Yuba River watershed is one of 10 landscapes that will be funded under the U.S. Forest Service’s new 10-year Wildfire Crisis Strategy implementation. The strategy outlines the need to treat up to an additional 20 million acres on national forest lands and up to an additional 30 million acres of other federal, state, Tribal, private and family lands over the next decade. 

The North Yuba landscape will receive significant federal investment as part of the first round of funding under the strategy. This funding will provide $6.8 million to treat 4,500 acres in 2022 and an expected $25 million in 2023-24 for the treatment of an additional 16,900 acres. These funds will be used towards increasing the pace and scale of projects that the partnership has been working on since the memorandum of understanding was signed in 2019. 

The 313,000-acre North Yuba watershed is one of the largest, contiguous “unburned” landscapes remaining in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The watershed is also an important water source for residential and agricultural areas surrounding Sacramento.

“The inclusion of the North Yuba River watershed in this initial investment is a testament to the partnership demonstrating that it is effective at the landscape scale and able to get this important and impactful work done,” said JoAnna Lessard, project manager for Yuba Water Agency’s watershed resilience and forest health program. 

A second announcement by the U.S. Forest Service on Apr. 18 committed an additional $3 million for work in the North Yuba River watershed in 2022 as part of its Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program. These funds will also be used for implementation-ready projects.

“Both of these new funding awards provide resources at a pivotal time,” Lessard said. “There is an urgent need to address high wildfire hazard potential and areas more susceptible to insects, disease and drought in the North Yuba River watershed.” 

The treatments that this funding will support, such as ecologically based thinning and prescribed fire, are designed to promote forest conditions that are more resilient, while reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire and restoring watershed health and native biodiversity.

The North Yuba Forest Partnership was formed in 2019 to improve and protect the health of the forests and communities in the North Yuba River watershed. Participating partners include Yuba Water Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, South Yuba River Citizens League, Camptonville Community Partnership, Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe, National Forest Foundation, Sierra County, and Blue Forest Conservation.

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