English Meadow restoration benefits environment and NID water supply

April 27, 2018

When NID customers turn on taps in their homes, the flowing water comes from 70,000 acres of high mountain watersheds on the upper reaches of the Middle Yuba River, South Yuba River, Bear River, Deer Creek and many tributaries.

These mountain watersheds capture rainfall and snowmelt, then naturally cleanse the water that flows downhill to be used as supply for households, farms and industry within NID’s 285,000-acre service territory.

The importance of a healthy watershed – the source of NID’s water — cannot be overstated. There is a direct link between the quality of water supply and condition of the source watersheds. The District is committed to its share of creating and maintaining its healthy watersheds.

One important example of NID’s commitment to the upper watersheds is the multi-year restoration work being done in English Meadow (elevation 6,152 feet). The meadow is northeast of English Mountain, southeast of Findley Peak and west of Jones Valley. The Middle Yuba River flows through this beautiful high elevation meadow on its way into Jackson Meadows Reservoir.

In general, a meadow absorbs precipitation – rain and snowmelt – into the soil, stores it through the summer and naturally releases water later in the year. Specifically, English Meadow releases water into the Middle Yuba and Jackson Meadows Reservoir, and ultimately the flows reach NID’s western-most customers in Lincoln at an elevation 150 feet above sea level.

NID’s multi-year restoration project seeks to improve meadow function and habitat. A chief goal is to reconnect the meadow to the Middle Yuba. English Meadow has been altered after decades of natural degradation and human uses, and a disconnect has occurred. When the natural connection between the river and meadow is re-established, increased functionality will be restored. More water will accumulate as the spongy ground absorbs snowmelt runoff and percolates it through the soil. The water will remain in the meadow longer into the year, instead of pulsing out in a rush when the snow melts.

This restoration project will have many benefits, including increased groundwater and the sediment reduction into Jackson Meadows Reservoir, saving water storage capacity. The project also will reduce the potential for catastrophic fire risk to forested lands through understory thinning and selective tree removal.

In 2017, the District collaborated with the U.S. Forest Service, California State University, Sacramento and Plumas Corporation to create baseline data and a map.

In March 2018, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy awarded the District a $65,000 grant for environmental, cultural and forestry work to develop a Timber Harvest Plan for 550 acres in the Upper Middle Yuba River watershed around English Meadow.
english-meadow-map

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