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December 15, 2011: Vol. 1, #12

In This Issue:
Klamath Dam Removal - Deadline Update
San Gabriel National Recreation Area
War On Merced And Other Wild Rivers
EBMUD Defers Pardee – Mokelumne Safe For Now
Support Wild & Scenic Protection For The Santa Margarita River

River News & Events

Copco 2 Dam on Klamath RiverKlamath River Dam Removal – Comment deadline extended to December 30, 2011!

Good news!  The Department of the Interior has extended the deadline to submit comments on the Environmental Impact Report / Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) to December 30th

In the EIR/EIS, Alternatives 2 and 3 provide the most comprehensive answer to removing the dams on the Klamath River.  Both return the river to a free-flowing condition; however, Alternative 2 requires full removal of all four dams while Alternative 3 retains some pieces of the facilities in place. 

Alternative 3 was selected as the preferred alternative because less removal would mean fewer short-term impacts.  In addition, the two primary long-term benefits analyzed are retained roosting areas for bats and keeping historically-significant structures at Copco 1.  However, Alternative 3 could impede wildlife movement in the area and also requires the government to maintain the structures indefinitely, making sure that the retained facilities are safe and not adversely impacting the environment.

Here are some helpful links to help understand the options, as well as to provide your opinion to Secretary Salazar on the current preferred pathway.

Summary of Key Conclusions from the Draft EIR/EIS and related reports (4 pages)

Executive Summary of the Draft EIR/EIS (50 pages).
The alternatives begin on page 21.

Once you are ready to voice your thoughts, here is the link to submit your comments:

This webpage has an electronic comment field, as well as addresses for those who wish to send their comments in written form.

San Gabriel StreamHundreds Speak Out For San Gabriels NRA

Hundreds of people attending a series of public meetings in southern California in November spoke out in favor of protecting the San Gabriel Mountains and portions of the San Gabriel River watershed as a National Recreation Area (NRA).

The public meetings were held by the National Park Service to seek public input in response to the agency’s San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains Special Resources Study. The study found the San Gabriel Mountains and the San Gabriel River to be nationally significant and one alternative in the report (Alternative D) recommended protection of the mountains and river as a NRA to be managed by multiple federal and local agencies.

An overwhelming majority of public members attending the meetings supported the alternative proposing establishment of an NRA that includes all the National Forest lands in the San Gabriel Mountains, plus existing local parks and open space downstream along the San Gabriel River, along with a chunk of the adjacent Puente-Chino Hills. The proposed NRA would be cooperatively managed by existing federal, state, and local agencies, with the National Park Service providing coordination, education and interpretive services, and additional federal resources.

In addition to establishing the NRA, public comments at the meetings favored protection of wilderness and wild rivers in the National Forest lands in the San Gabriel Mountains. Friends of the River has been working with a coalition of conservation groups that proposed a comprehensive wilderness and wild river legislation package for the region, part of which has been incorporated into legislation (H.R. 113) introduced by Rep. David Dreier.

The public still has the opportunity to comment on the study and support the San Gabriels NRA. Click here to send an email to the Park Service in support of Alternative D (San Gabriels NRA). The deadline for public comment is tomorrow, December 16, 2011.

MRsideHouse Resources Committee Declares War On Merced And Other Wild Rivers

The Republican dominated House Natural Resources Committee approved several bills that weaken federal protection for the Merced Wild River and other rivers in the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System. The Committee approved by a party-line voice vote Rep. Jeff Denham’s bill – H.R. 2578 – which adjusts the boundary of the Merced Wild River to allow for possible expansion of the New Exchequer Reservoir.

The bill is expected to move to the House floor for a full vote soon. Please click here to send an email TODAY to your representatives in Congress urging them to protect the Merced Wild River by rejecting H.R. 2578.

Moke pano of trees

EBMUD Defers Pardee Expansion – Mokelumne Safe For Now

East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) staff are recommending to the EBMUD Board to defer the proposed expansion of Pardee Reservoir on the Mokelumne River and not include it – at least for now – and not including it in the menu of water supply options for the district’s 30 year water supply plan.

The EBMUD staff recommendation was included in a revised draft programmatic environmental impact report released to the public this week. The revised report was required by a state court ruling earlier this year that found the district’s original environmental report failed to disclose the reasonably foreseeable impacts on the Mokelumne River of expanding the existing Pardee Reservoir. The lawsuit that required the revised report was filed by Friends of the River, Foothill Conservancy, and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

“This is a wonderful Christmas present for the wild Mokelumne River,” said Steve Evans, FOR's Wild Rivers Project Consultant. “EBMUD is doing the right thing by dropping this project from consideration in their current water supply plan,” he said.

EBMUD staff stated that the proposed expansion of Pardee Reservoir could be deferred from consideration because the district is now seriously examining the option of partnering with the Contra Costa Water District on the expansion of the Los Vaqueros Offstream Storage Reservoir. The existing Los Vaqueros Reservoir is already being expanded and the state court ruling had noted that EBMUD had failed to consider partnering on this more environmentally benign water project as an alternative to the much more destructive Pardee expansion.

Expanding Pardee would flood more than a mile of the Mokelumne River, including a segment recommended by the Bureau of Land Management for Wild & Scenic River protection. In addition, Pardee expansion would drown river recreation access facilities at the Middle Bar and Highway 49 bridges, and require removal of the Middle Bar Bridge, which is a critical emergency evacuation route for locals in case of wildfire. The state court also noted that the proposed expansion of Pardee Reservoir would adversely impact Native American cultural sites and use of the river.

River conservationists are cautiously optimistic that the EBMUD staff recommendation to defer Pardee means that the river is safe from threats, at least for now. The staff recommendation must be approved by the EBMUD Board after the public has an opportunity to comment on the revised EIR. But it is important to note that the project is simply being deferred by EBMUD, not eliminated. “EBMUD could resurrect Pardee expansion later,” Evans said, “which means that permanent Wild & Scenic protection for the Mokelumne River is more important than ever.”

Friends of the River will roll out an alert to encourage public responses to the draft plan and EIR in January 2012.


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Temecula Gorge

Support Wild & Scenic Protection For The Santa Margarita River!

The Santa Margarita River in Riverside and San Diego Counties has often been called the last free flowing river in southern California. Now conservationists have the opportunity to encourage the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to recommended Wild & Scenic River protection for this outstanding river as part of the agency’s South Coast Resource Management Plan (RMP). Please email the BLM TODAY urging the agency to protect the Santa Margarita River for present and future generations.

An outstanding natural refuge in a rapidly urbanizing landscape, the Santa Margarita River supports riverside (riparian) habitat that maintains the highest density and overall diversity of birds species of any natural area in southern California’s coastal region. The river’s varied and diverse habitats support at least two threatened and endangered native birds (least Bell’s vireo, California gnatcatcher) and two sensitive plants. The Santa Margarita River area is a critical biological link between the Palomar Mountains in San Diego County, the San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County, and the Santa Ana Mountains in Orange County.

The river cuts its way through the rugged and scenic Temecula Gorge (pictured above), which is part of an ecological reserve managed by San Diego State University for scientific research. Further downstream, an extensive multi-use trail system on river lands near the town of Fallbrook has been featured in Sunset and Backpacker magazines and attracts recreational visitors from throughout the region. There are federal plans to restore endangered steelhead trout to the Santa Margarita River.

The BLM originally determined the short 1.15-mile segment of the Santa Margarita River that flows through BLM-managed lands to be eligible for Wild & Scenic protection in 1994. The agency will decide whether it will recommend federal protection to Congress as part of its revised South Coast RMP. This presents the rare opportunity to propose protection for the entire 10-mile segment of the river between Interstate 15 and the eastern boundary of Camp Pendleton, to be jointly managed by the BLM and state and local agencies.

The revised South Coast RMP will guide the future management of more than 300,000 acres of public lands in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego Counties. These public lands are a refuge for numerous plant and wildlife species and offer important open space for public enjoyment in a rapidly urbanizing region that supports more than 20 million people. In addition to supporting Wild & Scenic protection for the Santa Margarita River, conservationists should support Alternative B in the RMP, which emphasizes the protection and conservation of natural resources, including wildlife and habitat.

Alternative B proposes protection of 67,506 acres of Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC), including an expanded 4,474-acre Santa Margarita River Ecological Reserve ACEC and the newly proposed 1,620-acre Upper Santa Clara River ACEC. In addition to the existing Beauty Mountain and Otay Mountain Wilderness areas, Alternative B proposes to protect the wilderness characteristics of an additional 5,392 acres of public land. Grazing and off-highway vehicle use is also limited in Alternative B to protect threatened and endangered species, water quality, and other uses of the public lands.

Please act TODAY by clicking here and urge the BLM to recommend Wild & Scenic River protection for 10 miles of the Santa Margarita River, to be jointly managed by federal, state, and local agencies. Also, urge adoption of Alternative B (the conservation alternative) in the South Coast RMP. The deadline for public comment is December 21, 2011. 






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