To help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, promote fire adapted communities and improve forest health, Tahoe National Forest is providing National Forest Foundation $117 million to implement forest management work in the North Yuba Landscape. In 2022, North Yuba Landscape was one of 10 initial high-risk landscapes nationally selected for investment as part of the Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy. The landscape is one of the most at-risk watersheds to large-scale, catastrophic fire in United States and includes the 275,000-acre North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project, a multi-phase vegetation and fuels management project to be implemented over 15 to 20 years.
With this agreement, National Forest Foundation plans to treat over 21,000 acres and produce over 55 million board feet of timber from forest thinning treatments. These fuels reduction efforts will significantly lower wildfire risk and change fire behavior to protect communities, escape routes and utility infrastructure while also improving forest health to protect important habitats and enhance resilience to climate change.
“Tahoe National Forest is excited to expand our already outstanding partnership with the National Forest Foundation with the largest agreement between our organizations in history. Our partnership with National Forest Foundation continues to help increase the pace and scale of work desperately needed on the ground in the North Yuba Landscape,” said Tahoe National Forest Supervisor Eli Ilano. “Through significant new federal investment, coupled with the significant resources raised by National Forest Foundation and all the organizations in the North Yuba Forest Partnership, we are ramping up work on the landscape to further support and protect local communities and ecosystems that rely on the overall resilience of the Yuba River watershed.”
The North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project area stretches from New Bullards Bar Reservoir, east up to the Sierra Crest along Highway 49. The watershed supports substantial forest habitat, high biodiversity and is an important source of water to downstream users. The area offers excellent opportunities for recreation and is home to the communities of Camptonville, Downieville and Sierra City.
To implement work on the North Yuba Landscape, Tahoe National Forest has partnered with eight organizations passionate about the health and the resilience of the North Yuba River watershed, establishing the North Yuba Forest Partnership. Since 2018, the partnership which includes National Forest Foundation, has been working to collaboratively plan, analyze, finance and implement forest restoration across the watershed.
“Over the last several years, the National Forest Foundation and U.S. Forest Service have successfully partnered to improve the health and resilience of thousands of acres of the Tahoe National Forest. With this new large-scale agreement, we are eager to build upon our proven model and accomplish even more meaningful on-the-ground results,” said National Forest Foundation President and CEO Mary Mitsos. “Forests in California and throughout the West are in need of treatment activities beyond what any one entity can do on its own. Working through innovative partnerships, like we have on the Tahoe National Forest, we are excited to bring new tools and resources to tackle the challenge together.”
In addition to the investment of $117 million to the National Forest Foundation, the Tahoe National Forest anticipates up to $36 million more of federal funds in 2023 for additional project work. The forest received $6.8 million of federal funds in 2022 to direct toward the North Yuba Landscape, with significant non-federal funding from the North Yuba Forest Partnership since 2018. Federal funding sources stem from a variety of legislative actions including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act.
The execution of the North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project will support nearly 2,000 jobs each year of project implementation in the logging, wood products and ecological restoration industries primarily in Sierra and Yuba counties and neighboring communities.