The Feather River watershed includes 3,222 square miles of land base that drains west from the crest of the northern Sierra Nevada into the Sacramento River. Water produced from the Feather River system provides over 1,400 MW of hydroelectric power, and represents a significant component of the State Water Project. Much of the Feather River watershed, though, has been affected by 140 years of intensive human influence. Extensive mining, grazing, timber harvesting, wildfire, railroad, and road construction and maintenance have collectively contributed to watershed degradation, resulting in accelerated erosion, sedimentation in streams and reservoirs, and degraded terrestrial and aquatic habitats. In response, local stakeholders convened in 1985 to discuss collaborative strategies to reduce erosion and restore the watershed. This group later became the Feather River Coordinated Resource Management group (FRCRM).
The FRCRM is an alliance of 23 natural resource management agencies, local landowners, academia, and public and private sector groups working towards restoration of the Feather River watershed. Since 1985, the FRCRM has implemented over 50 restoration projects, which were planned and funded collaboratively by the watershed partners. Since inception, members of the FRCRM recognized the need to establish a monitoring program to assess long-term trends in watershed condition, and help to identify the effect of restoration projects on hydrologic function and environmental values.
Toward this end, the FRCRM was awarded a Clean Water Act 319 (h) grant in 1998 to develop and test a two-year watershed monitoring pilot program in the upper Feather River. The goal of the program was to identify and evaluate long term trends in watershed condition resulting cumulatively from restoration activities, land management changes and natural processes.Â Monitoring efforts continued with funding from the Calif. State Water Resources Control Board and North Central Valley Regional Board through their Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP). Current monitoring efforts are funded through theÂ Plumas County Water Forum.