The North Yuba Forest Partnership is a diverse group of nine organizations passionate about forest health and the resilience of the North Yuba River watershed. Together, the partners are working on an unprecedented scale to collaboratively plan, analyze, finance, and implement forest restoration across 275,000 acres of the watershed.
Through ecologically-based thinning and prescribed fire, the partnership seeks to protect North Yuba communities from the threat of catastrophic wildfire and restore the watershed to a healthier, more resilient state. Restoration efforts are expected to take many years, if not decades to complete, with the most critical project areas targeted first, i.e. at-risk communities, emergency response, evacuation access routes, and treatments to areas that have the potential to stop a wildfire from spreading.
The North Yuba watershed stretches from New Bullards Bar Reservoir east up to the Sierra Crest along Highway 49. The Landscape is approximately 275,000 acres, of which approximately 210,000 acres are National Forest System lands within Sierra County, with just the westernmost portions of the project area in Yuba County. The area includes thousands of acres of forest habitat, is an important source of water to downstream users, supports high biodiversity, is home to many communities, and offers excellent opportunities for recreation.
On September 16, 2021, the U.S. Forest Service released the Notice of Intent for the North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project Environmental Impact Statement (the NOI), which is available here. The NOI provides:
1) A description of the purpose and need of the project. The purpose and need of the project were developed by not only the U.S. Forest Service but the North Yuba Forest Partnership (NYFP) as well.
2) A description of the proposed action. The proposed action is a proposal by the Forest Service to recommend or implement an action on National Forest System lands.
In the case of the of the upcoming NOI, the proposed action is essentially a description of how the U.S Forest Service and the NYFP propose to (1) improve and restore forest health and resilience, (2) reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire that threatens communities and wildlife, (3) protect local communities from the threat of high-severity wildfire and climate change, and (4) protect and secure water supplies, including rivers, streams, and meadows.
3) The initial public comment period for scoping for the Environmental Impact Statement lasted 30 days. The public was invited to attend public scoping meetings about the project. These meetings, which occurred on September 22 and September 30, 2021, provided attendees with a summary of the proposed action and opportunities for questions. The recording for Meeting 1 is available here. Presentation slides are available here. The recording for Meeting 2 is available here. Presentation slides available here
4) Methods by which public comments can be provided during scoping.
What happens after the comment period ends?
After comments are received, a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is then prepared. Similar to the NOI, the public is given time to review the draft EIS and provide comments. After these comments are reviewed, a final EIS is prepared and published. A decision on the proposed action, selected alternative, or no action is then recorded within a Record of Decision (ROD) document.
For more information about the NEPA process, read our eNews article here.
Explore this interactive map to discover the background of the NYFP and the forest treatments that will be implemented.
Current North Yuba Forest Landscape
Many forests in the North Yuba watershed are unhealthy. They are overstocked with small trees and brush, and at risk of high-severity wildfire due to fire suppression and historic timber harvesting practices, exacerbated by climate change. As a result, communities and infrastructure within the watershed are at significant risk.
Forests once characterized by large, widely-spaced trees and beneficial, low-to-moderate severity fire are now dominated by non-fire resilient stands of vegetation ranging from dense thickets of small trees and brush to overstocked forests with significant ladder fuels.
This greatly increases the likelihood of destructive wildfire causing significant damage to communities and watershed health. In addition, many homes and communities have been built within and near the forests, making it challenging in some locations to protect lives and property from high-severity wildfire and to allow the use of prescribed fire or managed wildfire as a management tool.
and restore forest health and resilience
the risk of high-severity wildfire
and secure water supplies
the development of a local economy that can create sustainable jobs