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NID secures grant to fund fire fuel project near Jackson Meadows

Sierra Nevada Conservancy awards $1.274 million

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Dense forests and dead and downed woody debris on slopes adjacent to Milton Reservoir

(June 6, 2023) The Nevada Irrigation District (NID) has received $1,274,000 in funding from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) to reduce fire fuels and improve forest health near Jackson Meadows Reservoir.

The grant will go to implement the Upper Yuba Headwaters Forest Restoration Project, which will remove understory fire fuels, hazard trees, and overly dense small trees on about 400 acres of District property. This will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire by improving forest resilience and watershed health.

“Jackson Meadows is a critical headwaters area. This grant will provide important assistance so that NID can continue its work to protect our region’s source watersheds. Healthy watersheds are vital; they supply water reliability for our community and our ecosystems,” said Neysa King, NID’s environmental resources administrator.

Located in the upper headwaters of the Middle Fork Yuba River, Jackson Meadows Reservoir (elevation 6,036 feet) is an important NID storage facility used for recreation, hydropower production and water supply for District customers.

The Project will be completed utilizing hand crews with tracked chipper equipment on 140 acres as well as mastication treatment and understory thinning operations on an additional 260 acres of the project area. It’s expected the progress will be about 100 acres per year. The existing tree density is variable across the project area ranging from 200 to 2,000 trees per acre.

The total cost of the Project is $1.815 million. NID will contribute $541,000 in addition to the grant funding, which was approved by the SNC Governing Board on June 1, 2023.

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Dense forest conditions in and around the Aspen Group Campground, Jackson Meadows Reservoir

In the Project Scope and Description document, the SNC noted: “Jackson Meadows Reservoir and the 47,000-acre Upper Middle Fork Yuba watershed is a critical source for a large portion of the water for Nevada County. Reducing the fuel loading will improve the forest structure to retain water and reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire that would adversely affect this water source. This Project on NID land, in conjunction with planned treatments on USFS land, will help protect the water supply for Nevada and Placer counties, as well as downstream agricultural users.”

NID is coordinating with the Tahoe National Forest to plan and implement complementary treatments on USFS land in the Jackson Meadows area, including English Meadow. The SNC, a state agency focused on providing financial assistance in the Sierra-Cascade region of California, has been a strong supporter of NID for years, providing:

  • a planning grant of $65,000 for 550 acres of forest/meadow treatment of and around English Meadow, just south of Jackson Meadow Reservoir, which has been completed.
  •  Funding for two phases of a forest-health project around Scotts Flat Reservoir for $250,000 and $981,000 that reduced fuels on 361 acres.
  • a grant for $570,000 to implement recovery on land along the Bear River that burned in the 2021 River Fire.

“We are so grateful to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy for this funding. It goes a long way to improve forest health and remove risks to human health and safety throughout the District,” King said.

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