Truckee and Sierraville, CA – The California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) awarded $8.3 million in grant funding to accelerate the pace and scale of forest management in the Middle Truckee River Watershed. The award was made to the National Forest Foundation representing the Middle Truckee River Water Forest Partnership.
Dan Alvey, National Forest Foundation California Program Manager – Tahoe, stated, “The synergy fostered by the Middle Truckee River Watershed Forest Partnership is at the core of this achievement. By uniting multiple organizations with a shared vision, the partnership exemplifies the power of collective action in addressing complex conservation challenges.”
Located in California’s northern Sierra Nevada mountains, the Middle Truckee River watershed includes approximately 315,000 acres of land, of which 260,825 acres is managed by the U.S. Forest Service in the Tahoe National Forest. The watershed spans three counties in California, one in Nevada, and encompasses important forest and meadow ecosystems, the Truckee River, communities, recreational resources, and water supply reservoirs.
The Middle Truckee River Watershed Forest Partnership includes the National Forest Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Truckee Meadows Water Authority, Truckee River Watershed Council, and the United States Forest Service – Tahoe National Forest. The partnership has a 10-year plan with the goal of treating 62,000 acres.
The $8.3 million will fund treatments including mastication, thinning, and meadow restoration across 1,924 acres of the Five Creeks Project, just south of the Town of Truckee. The treatments will improve ecological resilience by restoring the balance of tree species, reducing ladder fuels, creating varied forest stand densities, reconnecting hydrology within and across meadow and upland habitats, and improving wildlife habitat.
“The history of fire suppression in the region has resulted in increased forest density and less fire frequency. These funds are critical to reduce the risk of high-severity wildfires that threaten communities surrounded by the Tahoe National Forest,” said Jonathan Cook-Fisher, District Ranger for the Tahoe National Forest, Truckee Ranger District.
Rachel Hutchinson, District Ranger for the Tahoe National Forest, Sierraville District noted, “This grant from WCB provides for more collaboration with stakeholders – allowing increased levels of coordination and, equally important, accelerates on-the-ground work by thousands of acres.”
In addition to funding treatment for 1,924 acres in the Five Creeks Project, the WCB grant will fund the planning of an additional 3,000 acres near Stampede Reservoir and 3,000 acres near Prosser and Boca Reservoirs. These projects create the opportunity to significantly enhance high-quality wildlife habitat conditions while reducing the potential wildfire severity and restoring forest health conditions.
“Northern Nevada relies on the forested headwaters of the Truckee River for a high-quality water supply,” said Kara Steeland, Hydrologist at Truckee Meadows Water Authority. “It’s essential that we cooperate with our upstream partners to mitigate water quality impacts that result from wildfires.”
“We have been working on healthy forest management in the Middle Truckee River,” said Heather Giger, Conservation Director for The Nature Conservancy in Nevada. “Our research shows there is a high likelihood of intense wildfire in the area absent the important work this partnership is tackling.”
Together these projects will improve forest resilience through thinning smaller trees, prescribed burning, meadow restoration, clearing underbrush, and more over the next few years. Although the partnership is focused on the next 10 years of work, it is expected that additional work will be needed beyond this decade-long period.
“The WCB funding helps the partnership increase the pace and scale of forest management,” stated Lisa Wallace, Truckee River Watershed Council Executive Director. “This work that is critically important for protecting our community from wildfires and improving ecosystem health.”
Learn more about the Middle Truckee River Watershed Forest Partnership.