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January 10, 2013: Vol. 3, #1

The Voice of California's Rivers Since 1973

FOR's campaign to save the Merced makes The Wall Street Journal
FOR submits Delta Plan comments
Your memories of 40 years of FOR

FOR Needs River Gear!

Write your Senators & Congressional representatives to Save the W&S Merced River

River Events: Tim Palmer - California Glaciers
show Jan 14 at Fox & Goose Pub in Sacramento


Merced with save.jpgFOR's campaign to preserve the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and Save the Merced makes national headlines
Johnnie Carlson, River Advocate Editor

The Wall Street Journal ran a news story about Merced Irrigation District's efforts to drown the Wild & Scenic Merced River and weaken the National Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. FOR's Ron Stork and several of our allies are quoted in the Journal's story.  Read the article by clicking here.


Delta smeltFOR submits Delta Plan comments
Bob Wright, FOR Senior Counsel
& Katy Cotter, FOR Legal Counsel

On January 11, 2013, the Delta Stewardship Council will hold a hearing to receive public comments on the Final Draft Delta Plan, the Revised Draft Program EIR analyzing the environmental impacts of the Final Draft Delta Plan, and the Rulemaking package. FOR urges its members to attend the hearing or to submit comments on these documents, which can be found here. . This Plan aims at complying with the statutory mandate of reducing reliance on the Delta while meeting the State’s water supply needs, but instead continues the legacy of half-hearted efforts that do not actually address the crux of the flaws in our water delivery system from the Delta. Perhaps worst of all, it blindly encourages new conveyance (the BDCP) that will serve only to worsen our current practice of unsustainable exports. Moreover, it favors new and expanded reservoirs and other infrastructure without providing a full analysis of these actions on endangered fish species, among other things. If approved, this Plan could set into a motion a series of approvals that could devastate not only the Delta but also the upstream tributaries that feed into the Delta. FOR urges you to review the Plan and related documents and tell the Delta Stewardship Council that you will not stand for such uninformed policy decisions. The deadline for written comment submission is January 14, 2013. To make sure your voice for the Delta is heard you can submit your comments at:


The Delta Plan and the BDCP claim they will help the Delta but in fact could cause great harm. The State’s plan is to build two massive tunnels each 34 feet in diameter, 35 miles long, and 150 feet beneath the surface with a capacity to take 15,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) of fresh water out of the Sacramento River upstream from the Delta near Clarksburg to transport to the pumping plants near Tracy. That is an enormous quantity of freshwater constituting most of the average flow of the River at that point during the summer.

 All responsible agencies and organizations know that too much freshwater is already taken from the Delta. The Council’s own draft Delta Plan admits that: “A portion of the water flowing into the Delta is specifically allocated to Delta outflow to help repel salinity intrusion from the San Francisco Bay and to maintain low salinity water near the western edge of the Delta. This means that water that might otherwise be used for exports must be released from upstream reservoirs to help control salinity (NRC 2012).” (Delta Plan 91).

A different portion of the draft Delta Plan admits that as a result of climate change, “Sea level rise, as much as 55 inches by 2100 (OPC 2011), will result in high salinity levels in the Delta interior, which will impair water quality for agricultural and municipal uses and change habitat for fish species. Maintaining freshwater conditions in the Delta could require unanticipated releases of water from storage, which will reduce available water supplies for fish.” (Delta Plan 80).

Given that salinity intrusion is already a huge problem now for the Delta, and will worsen greatly as a result of changing conditions including climate change, the plan to add new massive diversions of freshwater upstream from the Delta would be a “double whammy” and likely the final nail in the coffin for the Delta. Presently, the exporters divert the water they take from the southern end of the Delta. The Delta obtains some freshwater benefits of the water before it is taken, as it does flow through the Delta. At the same time, the large interests exporting the water presently share some of the interest of the Delta in keeping salinity intrusion from becoming too great as like the people in the Delta, they are drawing their water from the Delta. If the Delta Tunnels are constructed, the exporters will be able to take massive quantities of freshwater upstream from the Delta unaffected by worsening salinity, leaving the Delta to become a polluted and salty waste land. We are trying to save the Delta from that fate.

Beyond the environmental damage that will be caused by the construction of new Delta conveyance, the economic analysis demonstrates that such construction is unsound and unjustifiable.  The State is not requiring the exporters to pay for attempts to mitigate the massive worsening of salinity intrusion that would occur because of the new diversions of water upstream. Its plan is to stick the taxpayers with the mitigation costs. So far, Plan proponents have pulled a proposed bond measure from the ballot twice, in 2010 and 2012, out of fear that the bond measure would be defeated at the polls. This entire process is not only an outrage against the environment and the Delta, it is also an outrage against the people and the taxpayers of the State of California. The people voted down the peripheral canal back in 1982 by a 63-37% vote. To renew the peripheral canal plan, this time in the form of the Delta Tunnels, would destroy the Delta by converting it from a freshwater body to a saltwater body imposing the costs of mitigation on the taxpayers.  The exporters would gain the benefits of grabbing the freshwater while the Delta and the taxpayers would reap the pain in the form of environmental destruction and higher taxes.

The environmental damage is not limited to the “statutory” Delta; in fact, widespread impacts will be seen in the tributaries to the Delta.  The Delta Plan encourages construction and expansion of upstream reservoirs without any true mitigation for the devastating impacts these facilities would have on anadromous fish species. Studies have shown that there is not enough water available to justify the cost of more storage north or south of the Delta, such as the proposed Sites reservoir. In addition, evaporation and other losses would take a large portion of any additional storage. Thus, the claim that “Delta water that is stored in wet years will be available for water users during dry years” ignores the reality that there is not enough water to justify the cost of more storage.

Moreover, the only true cost-benefit study of the Delta Tunnels project that has been prepared is the study done by the Eberhardt School of Business, University of the Pacific released July 12, 2012. That study demonstrated that the costs of the Delta Tunnels would be 2.5 times higher than the benefits, so that the project does not make economic or financial sense. In the most recent round of drafts released by the Council, the cost-benefit study is not even mentioned, let alone analyzed. Consequently, the perpetrators of this disaster seek to inflict all costs of attempting to mitigate this disaster on the taxpayers. The project would reach great heights of absurdity by imposing environmental harm and destruction while worsening the state's financial woes.




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Author Tim PalmerTim Palmer's Glaciers book tour comes to Sacramento on January 14th

SAVE THE DATE: On January 14, 2013 Friends of the River will host Tim Palmer in Sacramento at the Fox & Goose Pub from 6 to 8pm for a slide show of his latest book: California Glaciers.

Tim Palmer has written twenty-two books about the American landscape, conservation, adventure travel, and rivers. California Wild, a text and photographic book, won the Benjamin Franklin Award for the best book on nature and the environment in 2004. Palmer wrote the text for the Yosemite Association’s Yosemite: The Promise of Wildness, which
 received the Director’s Award from the National Park Service as the best book of the year in 1997. His other books include, Rivers of America, which features 200 color photos of rivers nationwide, Rivers of California, and Luminous Mountains, published by Heyday in collaboration with the Yosemite Association. Palmer has traveled extensively through the mountains of California by foot and on skis, with his canoe and whitewater raft, and in his well-equipped van.




Merced with save.jpgTAKE ACTION: Help Save The Merced
January 2013, Washington, D.C.


A bill to drown Wild & Scenic Merced River may come up in the Senate or House any day. Take action today and spread the word to your friends and family all across the nation! And Please post the action link to your Facebook page.

We expect that a measure to roll back Wild & Scenic Rivers Act protections for a portion of the Merced River in California to allow the enlargement of Lake McClure Reservoir may be introduced soon.  You can read more in-depth background on our Merced River Page.

We do not know when, or in what form, this bill will emerge from the darkness and into the light of democracy.  Rather than wait until it is too late, we have sent a sign-on letter opposing the measure, signed by 56 environmental groups, to key Senators, including Senator Bingaman, (D, NM; Chair, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee) , Senator Wyden (D, OR), Senator Feinstein (D, CA), and Senator Boxer (D, CA).  The FOR led sign-on letter to Senators provides more background on the actual measure; the list and logos of signatories gives a sense of the breadth of opposition to this destructive measure. 

Please ask your Senators and Congressional Representatives to oppose this measure, click here for an easy way to send an email. And Please post the action link to your Facebook page - Thank you!

View a video that provides an overview of the issues:  Threat to the Wild & Scenic Merced.




FOR Needs River Gear!
Scott Arrants, Board of Elected Volunteers

In September a group of valued FOR volunteers helped out with the annual "Gear Love Day" where we performed basic maintenance and inventoried the FOR rafting gear.  The gear is well used when promoting FOR and FOR's message.  The conclusion we came to is that the gear needs help!  We are looking for some help in the following areas:


  • Two rafts have leaks that need to be found and fixed. 
  • One raft has a leaky floor valve that needs repair/replacement. 
  • One raft has a repaired floor that needs to be installed (we have the raft, floor, and webbing). 

Contact Scott Arrants,  or Greg Gilmore (Big Bird),  and we would be happy to assist with arrangements for you to repair one or more rafts!

Other Gear:

  • PFDs - We need more!  We have 15 small/medium, 10 large/extra large, 3 adult universal, 26 child
  • Paddles - We need more!  We have 50 paddles and 2 guide sticks
  • Roll-a-table - We need 1-2 more, we only have one.

If you are willing to donate money specifically for gear, please contact Stacy Alyse Wieser,  who has graciously agreed to be the collection point for gear donations.




Park your old car on the River Bank - FOR's Bank that is!

Friends of the River now accepts donations of cars, boats, trucks, jet skis and more! In a cooperative effort between Donation Line and FOR your vehicle can be donated to help save our rivers! You must have a clean title. Free Towing & No Hassles. Pick up ASAP.

Call 1-877-227-7487 extension 2811




[object Object]Your memories of 40 years of FOR
Johnnie Carlson, Operations Director

2013 marks the 40th anniversary of Friends of the River.  Founded in the struggle to save the Stanislaus River from the filling of the New Melones Dam, FOR has gone on to fight countless battles to save our wild and free rivers – and you have been a part of that history.

To help FOR mark our 40th birthday we are looking for your memories and photos to share on our website and at our upcoming events in 2013. If you have photos, memories of FOR river trips, or river activism experiences to share – please email them to us at  We will be building a page of memoires on our website beginning this spring!



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