Upper Humbug Valley YC02 Tributary Project
The Upper Humbug Valley Tributary Project is a 73-acre subset of a series of projects in the same vicinity that will total 137 acres, when completed. The Project is on the Almanor Ranger District of the Lassen National Forest (LNF) and is located on a tributary to the mainstem of Yellow Creek. Humbug Valley is a significant upper watershed tributary to the North Fork Feather River in Plumas County. Water that used to spread across the Project’s historic meadow floodplain is now concentrated in an incised stream channel, which was likely done to drain the meadow in efforts to increase forage production for grazing animals and building construction.
Incised stream channels, disconnected from their naturally evolved floodplains, lead to a cascade of negative ecosystem effects in meadows: gullied channels erode and transport fine sediment from streambanks, negatively influencing downstream aquatic life; groundwater levels are reduced as flows are captured in eroded gullies and quickly transported out of the meadow; vegetation becomes water-stressed, leading to conifer encroachment; and shifts from wet meadow vegetation to dryland species cause decreases in riparian-dependent wildlife.
Implementation of this project seeks to address water and ecosystem stressors identified in the Plumas County Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (2016). Restoration of the Project area would entail filling the incised channel and multiple excavated ditches. This would restore surface and subsurface flow throughout this meadow. Restoration of functional hydrologic processes in wet meadow habitats helps restore the full suite of benefits provided by these ecosystems such as increasing groundwater storage and water quality, extending base stream flows later into the summer season, stimulating carbon sequestration, halting erosion, and increasing diversity of flora and fauna.
Plumas Corporation is the Project lead in partnership with the LNF. Other stakeholders include: the Mountain Maidu who are downstream landowners and refer to Humbug Valley, their ancestral homeland, as Tasmam Koyom; timber companies owning adjacent lands who will provide input on any proposed work to coop roads; the Sierra Meadows Partnership who commented on the project design on the mainstem of Yellow Creek; and the public, for whom Humbug Valley is a popular recreation, hunting, and camping destination.
* Project restores natural hydrologic conditions to facilitate improved capture and infiltration of surface water and groundwater recharge