Watershed Restoration on the Plumas National Forest

Ecological RestorationThe Plumas National Forest has developed an active and robust program to improve watershed condition on Forest system lands. Consistent with the Pacific Southwest Region's primary focus on ecological restoration, the Forest's watershed restoration program works collaboratively with partnership organizations and local stakeholders to increase protection of riparian and aquatic ecosystems and enhance watershed condition so that clean water and quality habitat is available for recreationists, water users, and wildlife.

Ecological Restoration WaterfallSeveral types of watershed restoration projects are implemented on the Forest. Large scale forest treatments, including forest thinning and prescribed fire, have been designed and implemented to decrease the likelihood of uncharacteristically severe wildfires, which can impact water quality and aquatic habitat. Road drainage improvements are constructed to reduce water quality impacts associated with road-generated fine sediment while improving drivability for Forest visitors. Recent transportation planning efforts are striving to improve off-highway vehicle trail systems while identifying unneeded roads for closure. Stream channel restoration projects aim to improve habitat for both aquatic and terrestrial wildlife.

Meadow Restoration

Meadow RestorationOver the past decade, the Forest has placed considerable focus on restoration of degraded streams in meadow settings.  Large areas of broad, relatively flat mountain valleys have been improved, restoring ground water tables to historic levels and improving habitat and floodplain function.  Much of this work has been accomplished with partner signatories from the Feather River Coordinated Resource Management group.

The National Forest Service Watershed Improvement Program

Under the Forest Service’s nationwide Watershed Improvement Program, all Forests work at a watershed scale to assess and restore condition.  Each National Forest identifies priority watersheds for restoration and the essential projects necessary in those watersheds to bring about improvement in watershed condition.  While watershed restoration work is not limited to priority watersheds, national forests are expected to concentrate available resources for watershed improvement in priority watersheds.  The national Watershed Improvement program is described at the Watershed Condition Framework website.  That website includes an interactive map which can be used to see ratings for each Forest’s individual watersheds for 12 watershed condition indicators.  The map also indicates which watersheds have been selected as priority watersheds and provides a link to the action plan of essential restoration projects for each priority watershed.
Working with local agencies and stakeholders, the Plumas National Forest has identified two priority watersheds to date: the Lower Wolf Creek watershed, which encompasses Round Valley Reservoir and the community of Greenville and the Big Grizzly Creek watershed, which drains to Lake Davis and the Middle Fork of the Feather River.  The Forest plans to continue collaborative efforts to identify two to three additional priority watersheds in 2012.

The Regional Forest Service Water Quality Management Handbook

The Forest’s watershed restoration program includes monitoring resource conditions so that forest practices can be improved and water quality and aquatic habitat is protected.  Working with the California State Water Resources Control Board, Best Management Practices were recently revised and included in an updated Water Quality Management Handbook for Forest in the Pacific Southwest Region.

The Pacific Southwest Region’s Best Management Practices and Water Quality Management Handbook

If you’d like more info, contact Joe Hoffman