The California Legislature added the South Yuba River to the state system in 1999. The South Yuba flows through mixed public and private lands managed by the Forest Service (Tahoe National Forest), BLM’s Mother Lode Field Office, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation (South Yuba River State Park), and Sierra Pacific Industries. Federal agencies have previously determined the river to be eligible and suitable for federal protection. The protected segment extends from Lang’s Crossing downstream of Spaulding Dam to Englebright Reservoir.
The South Yuba River possesses extraordinary scenic, recreational, fish, and wildlife values of statewide significance. The South Yuba is a popular destination for summer swimming, seasonal experts-only whitewater boating, and year-round hiking. Trails along the river offer a variety of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian experiences. The river cascades over metamorphic bedrock and through granite boulders. Native fish species of the South Yuba include rainbow trout, pike minnow, hardhead, and Sacramento sucker. The entire river is rich in Gold Rush history. The Bridgeport Covered Bridge crossing the lower segment of the river is a National Historic Landmark.