YWI’s flagship project, known as the ‘Inimim Forest, is nearly 2,000 acres of BLM lands intermingled with private property on the San Juan Ridge in Nevada County, a 30-mile long narrow ridge between the South and Middle Yuba Rivers with an approximate population of 2,500 people. Our long term vision is a healthy, diverse forest that is home to both wild creatures and human beings and is ecologically and economically sustainable over centuries. To this end we are involved in research projects for the understanding and protection of our native flora and fauna as well as for the development of a forest-based human economy.
Phase 1 of the ‘Inimim Forest Restoration Project involves several different treatment types, including hand cutting and piling of small-diameter woody material, hand cutting and chipping along high-priority roadways, pile burning, and hazard tree removal. Project work began in January 2020 and is currently underway. Funding for this phase was provided by CAL FIRE’s Fire Prevention grant program and Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Proposition 68 grant program.
Phase 2 of the ‘Inimim Forest Restoration Project consists of about 314 acres of forest health treatments, including hand cutting and piling, hand cutting and chipping, and mechanical mastication. Implementation will begin in November 2020. Funding for this phase was provided by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Proposition 68 grant program.
The YWI and the ‘Inimim Forest
In October, 1990 members of the Yuba Watershed Institute signed a ground-breaking cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Land Management and the Timber Framers Guild providing for the joint management of 1,388 (now expanded to 1,813) acres of federal forest land on ten parcels on the San Juan Ridge in western Nevada County. These lands are now known as the ‘Inimim Forest. (‘Inimim is the Nisenan word for ponderosa pine.) The agreement called for the restoration of the ‘Inimim Forest to an old-growth condition, management of its timber on an ecologically sustainable yield basis, and protection of wildlife, cultural, historical, recreational, educational and scenic values of this forest.
1995 ‘Inimim Forest Management Plan
A six-year public planning process culminated in the Management Plan for the ‘Inimim Forest. This document, completed in 1995, is the result of over 3000 hours of volunteer work and input from residents (including biologists, ecologists, loggers, and foresters), and government agencies. The community-drafted plan was one of the first examples of community-based forest planning for federal lands in the United States. A BLM Environmental Assessment based on the plan was also released in 1995.
2000 Implementation Plan
In May 1997, YWI received a $50,000 grant from the US Environmental Protection Agencies’ Sustainable Development Challenge Grant Program. With this grant, the YWI completed an Implementation Plan for the ‘Inimim Forest. The plan allows YWI to meet the ISF/Smartwood(tm) preconditions for certification of the ‘Inimim Forest as an ecologically sustainable source of forest products. The plan specifies which lands are available for logging over the next 200 years, which lands will be cut in first 50 years, and the location of logging sites. It also includes detailed assessment and ongoing monitoring of stream and watershed conditions, and mapping of vegetation and old-growth forest distribution. Work on the implementation plan commenced in September 1998 and was completed in the winter of 2000.
2018 Draft Revised Management Plan
With funding from the Bella Vista Foundation and assistance from local forest ecologist Dr. Jo Ann Fites-Kaufman, the YWI completed a draft revised management plan for the ‘Inimim Forest in 2018. This revision updated the 1995 management plan to reflect changing forest conditions, timber markets, and scientific understanding of Sierra forest management.
2020 ‘Inimim Forest Restoration Project Environmental Assessment
In January 2020, the BLM’s Mother Lode Field Office completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact for the the ‘Inimim Forest Restoration Project. The EA was prepared by the YWI for BLM with funding from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and describes over 1,200 acres of proposed forest health treatments in the ‘Inimim Forest.