Yuba Water Agency Approves $6.5 million for forest restoration

Yuba Water Agency’s board of directors approved $6.5 million in funding for forest restoration projects this week as a part of the North Yuba Forest Partnership.

The partnership is made up of nine organizations working collaboratively to plan, finance and implement forest restoration across 275,000 acres of private and public land spanning Sierra and Yuba counties and two national forests.

“The momentum of the North Yuba Forest Partnership is a model for restoration in California and the western United States,” said Yuba Water Director Randy Fletcher. “This partnership has a proven track record of success and has done a tremendous job at showing what’s possible. We’re proud to be a big part of that.”

The agency has approved a $6 million cost-share contribution to the Blue Forest Conservation for a Forest Resilience Bond. The payments of $600,000 over 10 years will go towards restoration treatments on 23,000 acres for two projects previously planned by the Tahoe National Forest in Yuba and Sierra counties.

The new forest resilience bond is expected to leverage about $25 million in total funding and will be used to complete priority work that has stalled in recent years. The funding is also expected to leverage additional state and federal grants.

In a separate but related decision, the board also approved a $500,000 grant to complete environmental documents and permitting for the wider North Yuba Forest Partnership area and field surveys for the first 20,000 acres of treatment. The partnership had already secured $2.53 million for this effort and this grant fills the final funding gap.

“The North Yuba Forest Partnership is advancing restoration across hundreds of thousands of acres, a pace and scale significantly larger than the typical project area of 15,000 or 20,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada,” said Melinda Booth, executive director of South Yuba River Citizens League. “This planning effort for the entire watershed is creating a roadmap for prioritizing and carrying out work of this magnitude in the future.”

The board unanimously supported the two grants due to the long-term benefits for Yuba County’s water quality and quantity, watershed health, air quality and the economy.

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