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Planning grant awarded to NID and the Tahoe National Forest for 3,000-acre forest management project

District partnership with USDA Forest Service will advance water security and forest health, address wildfire risk

A scenic forest with a mix of green and white trees leading to a clear blue lake.
Potential project area with Jackson Meadows Reservoir in the background.

The Nevada Irrigation District (NID), in partnership with the USDA Forest Service, Tahoe National Forest, has received a planning grant to complete environmental surveys and compliance for a forest management project to return the Middle Yuba headwaters region to a healthier state.

The project will complete the surveys and assessments that are needed to begin forest restoration and fuels reduction work on up to 3,000 acres in the Middle Yuba headwaters, which are an important source of water for NID’s water system. The project area is located on Washoe tribal homelands near Jackson Meadows and Milton reservoirs on the Tahoe National Forest in Nevada and Sierra counties.

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) has awarded $386,100 to complete work considering potential environmental effects of the project, as part of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Once the necessary environmental compliance and forestry/fuels planning is complete, work can begin in the forest to increase resiliency of the forest.

A dense forest with a deer, various green trees, and ground foliage.
Dense stand of fir and pine adjacent to Bowman Lake Road in the Middle Yuba River watershed

The total cost is $556,100 with in-kind match to be provided by the Tahoe National Forest, Nevada Irrigation District and

Specifically, the forest management actions aim to improve forest health, wildfire resilience, key terrestrial and aquatic habitats, public safety and protect critical water system infrastructure. This will protect reservoir water quality and capacity, unique montane meadow environments and other wildlife habitats in the Sierra Nevada, and popular recreational sites like the Pacific Crest Trail, campgrounds and publicly accessible roads.

“We are so pleased to undertake a partnership like this with TNF to advance our efforts to work at a landscape scale,” said Neysa King, NID Environmental Resources Administrator. “This grant represents a huge step forward. It is a first for us to work at this scale, and we are focusing on national forest lands as they compose the vast majority of the headwaters for California, and definitely for the District.” 

A dense conifer forest with moss-covered trees and a leaf-littered forest floor.
Dense forest conditions south of English Meadow exemplary of sloped terrain with moderate to difficult access for both treatments and wildfire response

The project will leverage ongoing planning work by Tahoe National Forest to improve forest health within the Middle Yuba River watershed and will advance implementation of a priority project for the east side of the forest.

“Tahoe National Forest is thrilled to collaborate with partners passionate about returning the forest to a more resilient state,” said Tahoe National Forest Sierraville District Ranger Rachel Hutchinson. “Our forest is overgrown and dying. Fuels reduction work is crucial to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire and foster forest and watershed health.”   

The grant announcement was made during SNC’s quarterly Board Meeting Thursday, March 7, in Sacramento. At the meeting, SNC Board of Directors awarded more than $27.5 million to 16 different projects for the planning and implementation of forest-health projects that promote wildfire recovery and forest resilience.

The meeting also celebrated SNC’s 20th anniversary: “We are so honored to work with the SNC. They have become a driver in the efforts to address the needs of the Sierra Nevada-Cascade Region, the communities that are within it, the State’s headwaters – 75 percent of the water comes from this region -- countless species and habitats, forests and carbon sequestration, and the millions of visitors that come here,” King said.

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