SYRCL receives $4M grant for Yuba River

May 31—As part of a continued effort to restore fish and wildlife habitat throughout the state, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) last week approved about $83.15 million in grants, including $4 million for a project in Yuba County that will benefit the Yuba River.

According to the WCB, the South Yuba River Citizens League was awarded a $4,081,000 grant for a "cooperative project" with Yuba Water Agency. Called the Upper Rose Bar Restoration Construction project, it is intended to "increase spawning habitat, create backwater habitat and reduce bank erosion on the Yuba River one mile north of Smartsville in Yuba County," the WCB said.

The exact location of the project is owned by Yuba Water Agency and sits about 1 mile downstream of Englebright Dam in Yuba County. The 43-acre site is about 1.5 miles east of the city of Smartsville, according to a WCB staff report.

"Implementation of the project will enhance and enlarge two existing riffle features within the 43-acre project footprint through gravel augmentation creating much needed spawning habitat in the Yuba River," the staff report said. "This project will also recontour areas along both banks of the river to create rearing benches for juvenile salmonids. Further, this project includes funding for post-project biological and geomorphic monitoring. The gravel used for augmentation will come from on-site material excavated to create the access road necessary for project implementation. Excess material will be stored adjacent to the project for future augmentation."

South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) Interim Executive Director Aaron Zettler-Mann stressed that partnerships with agencies like Yuba Water are essential to restoring habitat for species such as salmon.

"We are really excited to add Rose Bar to the list of restoration projects — including Upper and Lower Long Bar, and Hallwood — that SYRCL and Yuba Water Agency are working on together to restore and enhance salmon habitat in the lower Yuba River," Zettler-Mann said in an email.

Yuba Water General Manager Willie Whittlesey echoed Zettler-Mann's sentiment that the project and its benefits are an example of the agency's continued partnership with the South Yuba River Citizens League.

"Whether it's fish habitat, forest health or water education, our partnership with South Yuba River Citizens League has done wonders for the Yuba watershed," Whittlesey said in an email. "This grant is just another example of how — when we work together — we can do so much good for this precious resource we all love."

Along with helping restore and protect habitat along the Yuba River, the project also is expected to "employ people from economically disadvantaged communities by providing local jobs during the construction phase" of the project, the WCB said.

Among some of the other 28 projects that were approved by the WCB, a $24 million grant for The Wildlands Conservancy also got the OK. According to the WCB, the grant will be used for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy to acquire about 11,691 acres of land in the Carmel Valley in Monterey County. This acquisition is intended to protect upland and lowland habitats and the wildlife species they support.

"The habitats consist of chaparral, oak woodlands and rolling grasslands along with seasonal creeks that provide riparian corridors supporting numerous species, including threatened and endangered California red-legged frogs and the California tiger salamanders," the WCB said. "The property, which exceeds the total acreage of some state parks, will provide wildlife-oriented education and research along with compatible public and private uses."

Officials with the WCB said that funding for these projects comes from sources including the Habitat Conservation Fund and bond measures approved by California voters to help preserve and protect the state's natural resources.

Other funded projects that were approved by the WCB on May 25 include the following: — A $2.42 million grant to the Mattole Restoration Council for a cooperative project with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to restore coastal prairie habitat at the Table Bluff Ecological Reserve located 4.5 miles southeast of the city of Loleta in Humboldt County. — A $3.1 million grant to the Xerces Society for a cooperative project with the California Department of Parks and Recreation, resource conservation districts and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to administer a block grant to address the decline of monarch butterflies and other imperiled pollinators by creating high quality habitat across California, targeting both monarch overwintering sites and the monarch priority restoration zones as well as improving connectivity across the landscape in various counties. — A $3.4 million grant to Ducks Unlimited for a cooperative project with USFWS, Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma County Sanitation District, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and State Coastal Conservancy to develop shovel-ready plans and environmental compliance documentation for up to 6,000 acres of the Sonoma Creek Baylands portion of the San Pablo Baylands in Sonoma County. — A $4.2 million grant to The Wildlands Conservancy to acquire approximately 2,333 acres of land for wildlife habitat preservation, restoration and management, wildlife-oriented education and research, habitat connectivity and future wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities near Bridgeport in Mono County. — A $3.34 million grant to Western Rivers Conservancy (WRC) for a cooperative project with Sierra Nevada Conservancy to acquire approximately 2,285 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species, wildlife corridors, habitat linkages and watersheds, and to provide wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities near the community of Weldon in Kern County. At close of escrow, WRC will direct the seller to convey the approximate 1,039 southwestern acres to the Kern River Valley Heritage Foundation and the approximate 1,246 northeastern acres to the Tübatulabal Tribe's nonprofit organization for long-term stewardship. — A $3.19 million grant to the Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) for a seed bank expansion project to collect, process and store seed, conduct research and develop protocols, create an inventory of California desert seed, and develop and implement outreach and education materials on MDLT-owned lands in Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.