LDSim has been utilized in the North Yuba River watershed to assist the Forest Service Interdisciplinary Team (ID Team) in developing proposed actions and proposed amendments on the Tahoe National Forest.
The North Yuba Landscape Resilience Project is a 275,000-acre forest restoration project in Northern California where project priorities included watershed health, wildlife habitat, recreation, and resilience to drought and fire.
The project team used departure metrics to estimate landscape conditions for characterizing impact of treatment. Historical range of variability (HRV) served as the primary reference condition range for natural range of variability for a host of different departure metrics, with the Landscape Disturbance-Succession Simulator (LDSim) used to compute HRV of landscape processes, and forest structure and composition. A composite forest structure departure index was used to characterize potential drought intensity and risk to resources and assets.
HRV-informed fire return interval departure (FRID) was used to characterize ecological functional health of various natural resources. Both departure metrics and a host of other geospatial datasets were ultimately used to calculate the Restorative Return on Investment (RROI) metrics that were used for initial project area development.
Treatment prescriptions included ecologically-based thinning and prescribed fire to reduce the density and continuity of tree cover and understory vegetation.
Reducing tree density decreases competition for water among the remaining vegetation that increases resistance to drought and overall water supply, while reducing ladder fuels and fuel loads of drought-stressed trees lowers the risk of high-mortality canopy fires.
Informed by HRV, the restoration project was also designed to promote diversity in the sizes, ages, and species of trees, to strengthen habitat and support key native species.
Through LDSim-informed restoration treatments, the NYFP aims to bring the project area into closer alignment with the historical and natural range of variability of wildfire disturbance by restoring a mosaic of meadows, oak woodlands, and mixed conifer forest to the Yuba River landscape.
To read more about the goals, treatments, and innovative finance strategies by North Yuba Forest Partnership that were informed by LDSim data, explore their Story Map.