A group of organizations committed to planning and implementing forest restoration projects within the North Yuba River watershed recently entered into an agreement to receive $1.13 million through the U.S. Forest Service’s Fireshed Program to plan future forest health and wildfire resilience treatments.

Willie Whittlesey, general manager for the Yuba Water Agency, said the funding is coming at the perfect time to jump start planning efforts and will make it possible to develop a plan to restore 275,000 acres of the watershed.

“Clearly the fire season this year was another reminder that we desperately need to get this work done, so we can reduce the chance of a megafire in our community,” Whittlesey said. “We have to restore the health and resilience of our forests, for the sake of our people and our watershed.”

The funds will support the group’s landscape-level planning, design, and prioritization efforts. Those efforts include assessments for wildlife, botany, cultural resources and hydrology throughout the North Yuba River watershed as well as upcoming environmental review and analysis.

The funding will also help cover staff support for project management, meeting facilitation, public outreach, communication and collaborative management needs.

“The U.S. Forest Service’s Fireshed Program funds build on existing capacity of staff specialists with the Tahoe National Forest, bringing us close to fully-funding the first phase of the planning process – an important and timely goal,” said Melinda Booth, executive director of the South Yuba River Citizens League,  in a press release. “This allows the North Yuba Forest Partnership to focus on the task at hand – to protect communities and restore forest health and wildfire resilience within the North Yuba watershed.”

Organizations part of the North Yuba Forest Partnership include the Yuba Water Agency, South Yuba River Citizens League, Camptonville Community Partnership, Blue Forest Conservation, National Forest Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Nevada City Rancheria, Sierra County, and the U.S. Forest Service.

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