Ackerson Meadow Restoration Project

The Ackerson Meadow Restoration Project is a wet meadow and riparian habitat restoration project with extraordinary benefits to wildlife including multiple State and Federal listed species and species of special concern. Restoring Ackerson Meadow will also provide multiple benefits for climate resiliency, water quality and supply, flood attenuation, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity. 

Ackerson Meadow sits on the boundary between Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest in the Tuolumne River watershed and is home to a wide range of native bird, plant, and fish species. It is one of the largest mid-elevation montane meadows in public ownership in the Sierra Nevada and a critical biodiversity hotspot and wildlife corridor. However, for over a century land-use activities such as ditching, roadbuilding, agriculture, and grazing led to the degradation of the meadow, creating an incised gully that drains the meadow and prevents it from serving its key ecological functions. The Ackerson Meadow Restoration Project promises to restore these functions and enhance the stunning and vital ecosystem of the Sierra Nevada.  

The Ackerson Meadow Restoration Project is the largest ‘full fill’ meadow restoration attempted in the Sierra Nevada to date. Over the course of two years of restoration work, 150,000 cubic yards of soil (or ~15,000 dump truck loads) will be used to raise the streambed and water table, reconnecting the meadow floodplain to slow and spread flows across the meadow. This will allow for increased groundwater recharge and storage, tempered peak flows, and improved flood protection downstream, as well as enhanced baseflow and improved late season water supply. It will also create ideal wet meadow habitat for species like the Little Willow Flycatcher. A broad range of results includes the re-establishment of 90 acres of historic wetland habitat, enhanced hydrology on 100 acres of existing wetland habitat, improving 225 acres of riparian songbird and waterbird breeding and migratory habitat, improving habitat for Willow Flycatcher, Great Gray Owl, and Northwestern Pond Turtle (CA Species of Concern), increasing late season base flows to Ackerson Creek and South Fork Tuolumne River, and improving public access and recreation opportunities. 

Grinding rocks used by indigenous inhabitants of the area in and around Ackerson Meadow | Photo: Evan Wold
Grinding rocks used by indigenous inhabitants of the area in and around Ackerson Meadow | Photo: Evan Wold

The Ackerson Meadow Restoration Project is driven by a partnership of organizations including American Rivers, YOSEMITE CONSERVANCY, YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, and Stanislaus National Forest.

Yosemite Conservancy Logo

This project was funded in part by the donors of American Rivers, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, California Wildlife Conservation Board, Google (in association with their Water Stewardship pledge and strategy), National Park Foundation (provided by The Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola Foundation, and Stericycle), National Park Service (provided by Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-Ecosystem Restoration, Concessions Franchise Fee, and NPS Operations), US Forest Service, and the Yosemite Conservancy (listed alphabetically). 

Ackerson Meadow | Matt Freitas

Restoration at Ackerson Meadow in the Sierra Nevada Breaks Ground

Shovels are in the ground, and the Ackerson Meadow Restoration Project is underway! Ackerson Meadow in Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest is one of the most significant biodiversity hotspots in the Sierra Nevada mountain range