NEVADA CITY, Calif. October 22, 2020 – The Yuba Watershed Institute (YWI) has hired two new staff members to assist with forest stewardship planning and implementation projects in Nevada County, in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and with support from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

In March, the YWI was awarded three grants from SNC’s Proposition 1/Proposition 68 Forest Health grant program. One grant supports the implementation of 314 acres of high-priority forest health treatments on BLM lands on the San Juan Ridge, known as the ‘Inimim Forest. The other two grants support the planning of forest health projects on 260 acres in the Little Deer Creek watershed, near the intersection of Gracie and Banner Lava Cap Roads, and 1,230 acres in the Round Mountain area between Purdon and North Bloomfield Roads.

The YWI has hired Cameron Musser as its new Forest Health Project Manager. With a B.S. in Genetics and Plant Biology from U.C. Berkeley, a M.F.S. from Yale’s School of the Environment, and experience in industrial forestry, Ms. Musser brings extensive forestry knowledge to the YWI. “I am thrilled to join the YWI to help design and implement forest health treatments in the ‘Inimim Forest that will also reduce the risk of catastrophic fires for local communities,” said Musser.

The YWI has also hired Corinne Munger as its Biologist/Environmental Planner. Ms. Munger has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from U.C. Santa Cruz, a M.S. in Biology from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and 17 years of experience as a biologist and environmental planner. Ms. Munger has also served on the YWI board of directors since 2013. “The YWI has a 30-year collaborative relationship with the BLM and a track record of successfully planning forest health projects in the ‘Inimim Forest. We are excited to help launch similarly effective community partnerships with the BLM at Round Mountain and in the Little Deer Creek watershed,” said Munger.

Local nonprofits Sierra Streams Institute (SSI) and Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT) are partners in the Little Deer Creek Landscape Resilience Project. SSI Executive Director Joanne Hild said, “As a longtime steward of Little Deer Creek, SSI is delighted to partner with YWI on this project, which includes planning to increase the resiliency of the Little Deer Creek watershed and reduce its susceptibility to severe fire effects.”

BYLT is also a partner in the Round Mountain Landscape Resilience Project, since it holds conservation easements on 160 acres of private lands within the project area. BYLT Co-Director Erin Tarr said, “Round Mountain is a critical location between the South Yuba River canyon and downtown Nevada City, and we look forward to collaborating with YWI and the BLM to plan much needed forest restoration treatments in this area.”

Chris Dallas of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy said, “We are pleased to partner with the Yuba Watershed Institute to expand the scope and scale of YWI’s successful partnership with the BLM in Nevada County. As we’re all seeing, the Wildland Urban Interface is a critical area in need of work to protect human life and property, and all of these projects are in service of increasing community resilience to wildfire risk and preservation of downstream water quality.”

In addition to the funding from SNC, CAL FIRE’s Climate Change Investments (CCI) Fire Prevention grant program continues to provide funding support for fuels reduction work on YWI’s ‘Inimim Forest Restoration Project, located on BLM land on the San Juan Ridge. CCI is a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities.