English Meadow Floodplain Restoration Project
NID partners with the Wildlife Conservation Board and Sierra Nevada Conservancy to restore English Meadow in the Upper Yuba River Headwaters
As California continues to shift to a warmer and more frequently burned landscape, functional watersheds will become critical to our future water resources. Within the headwaters region, mountain meadow health has been prioritized in the Sierra Nevada due to their connection to overall water quality and quantity in these watershed.
In summer of 2023, NID will be implementing the English Meadow Restoration project with a grant of $1.25M from the Wildlife Conservation Board.
The primary goal of the English Meadow Restoration Project is to improve the natural ability of English Meadow to store and release water in a self-sustaining meadow environment to enhance the functionality of this source watershed.
This project will improve the connectivity of the Middle Yuba River floodplain to the main river channel to achieve multiple project objectives that include: improved hydrologic function, habitat enhancement, and catastrophic wildfire risk reduction. In addition to providing water system benefits associated with improved groundwater retention and sediment attenuation, a healthy wet meadow would provide habitat for many species of plants and animals that depend on meadow environments.
A geologic assessment performed by Dr. Cornwell, Sacramento State University utilized seismology to establish a potential annual groundwater storage capacity for English Meadow.
Dr. Cornwell and his research staff concluded that approximately 425 ac. ft. of water could be captured if the mainstem of the Middle Yuba River is reconnected with its floodplain to recharge the shallow groundwater aquifer of the river, which would then support year-round ecological services and consistent stream flow.
English Meadow was inundated during the Gold Rush Era when Rudyard/English Dam was constructed around 1871. This process impacted the riverine hydrology, meadow characteristics, soils and vegetation throughout what is now the English Meadow Restoration Project Area.
Improving the functionality of English Meadow would allow more water and sediment to remain within the floodplain and aquifer, rather than being carried downstream during peak flow periods in the spring into Jackson Meadows Reservoir.
Project partners include Plumas Corporation, Sacramento State University, the Tahoe National Forest, Under the Trees, Inc., the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Board.