Areas of Butte, Plumas and Lassen counties have been devastated by wildfires in 2020 and 2021. The North Complex Fire and Dixie Fire have combined to burn 1,278,188 acres in just a little over a year. These fire have devastated entire communities. They’ve also burned nearly the entire Feather River Watershed, which provides water to 27 million Californians.
Water flows out of the Sierra Nevada into the Feather River, eventually ending up in California’s second largest reservoir – Lake Oroville. With the historic drought plaguing the region, water has all but disappeared up and fuels have become extremely dry, leaving the watershed vulnerable to massive wildfires.
The Sierra Nevada Conservancy recently compiled a striking graphic showing fires in the Feather River Watershed over the past century. The past two years have been especially fiery:
The Feather River Watershed supplies the largest reservoir in the State Water Project which 27m Californians & 750k acres of farmland rely on. In 2020 & 2021 it 🔥 like never before creating significant risks for 💧 quality & timing from the loss of 🌲cover.#CAfire #CAwater pic.twitter.com/GxERigIqXC— Sierra Nevada Conservancy (@CAsWatershed) September 10, 2021
The Dixie Fire continues to burn in the area on its way to becoming nearly a million acres. Meanwhile, Lake Oroville is experiencing nearly its lowest water levels ever. If there’s one area experiencing the devastating impacts of the drought, it’s the Feather River Watershed.