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Meadows are one of the best places to enjoy the Sierra’s natural splendor. Who doesn’t love a beautiful meadow filled with wildflowers? We treasure them for their open and lush freshness. We love to play in them: hiking, fishing, boating, picnicking, listening to songbirds and watching wildlife.

But it turns out, Sierra meadows are not only beautiful, they are absolutely essential to a broad diversity of species providing extraordinary habitats.  Meadows are an ecosystem bridge between high peaks and rushing rivers. They are keystone to mountain ecosystems and to a watershed as a whole.

Unfortunately, Sierra meadows have been exploited for 145 years. Nearly half of the Sierra’s meadows are considered impaired. Logging, mining, railroad building, development, fire suppression, dam building and grazing have left over half of the natural habitat degraded, including Van Norden Meadow on Donner Summit.

As you can see in the second photo, much of the South Yuba River in Van Norden Meadow suffers from badly incised channels, slumping banks and reduced summer flows due to degradation caused by legacy uses.

Want to learn more about Van Norden Meadow? You're invited to join a scientific team of Sierra Meadows experts to learn about the importance of Sierra Meadows and plans for the restoration of Van Norden Meadow. We also invite your feedback about the proposed restoration design. Ryan Burnett from Point Blue, Rachel Hutchinson from the South Yuba Rivers Citizens League, and Randy Westmorland from the United States Forest Service are all in the field scientists doing restoration in the Sierra Nevada. They will be presenting March 25, 5:30-7:30 in the Coldstream room at Mt. Judah Lodge at Sugar Bowl. 

Matt Chappell