A gentle western slope demarks the Sierra Nevada, rising out of the Central Valley, forming jagged peaks, and a steep eastern face that slopes into the Great Basin. From 300 to 3,000 feet, the vegetation is dominated by grassland or oak chaparral. Above 2,600 feet, pines begin to dominate, until alpine habitats are reached near the summit. The most important wetland habitats are associated with the major tributaries of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. Grass Valley and Sierra Valley are perhaps the best palustrine wetland complexes in this region.
Importance to waterfowl
- Sierra Nevada is very important for neotropical songbirds, but is far less important for waterfowl.
- Mallards, wood ducks, Canada geese and hooded mergansers nest at elevations up to 1,000 meters, while bufflehead and common merganser nest at higher elevations.
- Foothill riparian wetlands are used during late winter and early spring, especially in wet winters.
- It is important to protect water quality, hydrologic flow patterns and riparian corridors for watershed impacts within the Central Valley.
- Threats to water quality, hydrologic flow patterns and riparian corridors for watershed impacts within the Central Valley.
- Urban expansion in the next 10 to 40 years will concentrate on the Central Valley and its foothills as the human population in California is expected to double in the next 40 years.
- Loss of remaining wet meadow and riparian habitats on ranchlands to residential development.
- More than 90 percentof the riparian corridors in California have been destroyed or modified.
DU's conservation focus
- The Sierra Nevada region is of minor importance to the conservation efforts of DU.
- DU public policy staff in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., work to benefit wetlands conservation.
- DU biologists provide technical assistance upon request to landowners and wetland managers.
States in the Sierra Nevada region
California | Nevada