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Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program

What is the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program?

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The Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program is a coordinated, integrated, collaborative program to restore the health of California’s primary watershed through increased investment and needed policy changes.

Sierra Nevada forests and watersheds are at a critical point. Ongoing drought, a century of fire suppression, widespread tree mortality due to insect attacks and disease, and a changing climate have led to an increased risk of large, damaging wildfires.

The Watershed Improvement Program (WIP) builds upon the broad consensus that more must be done to restore Sierra Nevada forests and watersheds:

The pace and scale of science-based, ecological restoration need to dramatically increase in order to stem the tide of large, uncharacteristic wildfires and further degradation of these ecosystems.

      This comprehensive effort is being organized and coordinated by the state’s Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) and the federal United States Forest Service (USFS) in close partnership with additional federal, state, and local agencies, and diverse stakeholders.

        Developing and implementing this program in a strategic, integrated, and collaborative manner will maximize the investment made and ensure that policy changes are made with a comprehensive understanding of needs.


        Tahoe-central Sierra initiative

        Click on the map to find out more about innovative approaches that partners are working on under the TCSI.
        The Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the California Tahoe Conservancy, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service Region 5, Tahoe National Forest, Eldorado National Forest, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, National Forest Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, California Forestry Association, USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, University of California-Natural Reserve System, and Sagehen Creek Field Station, established the Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative (TCSI). The TCSI is a pilot effort under the WIP, that brings together innovative approaches to increase the pace and scale of restoration work that gets done across the watersheds of the Central Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe areas.

        Building upon several large-scale regional efforts and best available science, the TCSI Partners have established the Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative to accelerate regional scale forest and watershed restoration through ecologically based management actions while creating the opportunities to support a forest restoration economy and explore innovative process, investment, and governance tools.

        The TCSI builds on the same consensus as the WIP, that more needs to be done to make the forests and watersheds of the Sierra more resilient. The primary goals of the TCSI are:

        • Support innovative projects with the potential to leverage landscape-scale restoration on public and private lands within the TCSI region through fundraising, communications, information sharing, and other means.
        • Develop a science-based assessment of current conditions and future management scenarios for the TCSI area that can be used by decision-makers to develop, analyze, and implement large landscape forest restoration and resilience strategies.
        • Increase the pace and scale of ecologically-based forest management by leveraging lessons learned through pilot projects, identifying policy and funding opportunities supporting new landscape-scale restoration projects, and addressing barriers such as supporting wood and biomass processing infrastructure and expanded use of prescribed and managed fire.
        • Encourage and support collaborative-based efforts in both the design and implementation of ecologically-based projects, by sharing resources, capacity and expertise.

        For more information or to get involved, visit: