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Mokelumne Wild & Scenic Bill Passes Key Assembly Committee
Steve Evans, Wild & Scenic Program Coordinator
 
State legislation to protect 37 miles of the Mokelumne River in the California Wild & Scenic Rivers System cleared another hurdle on June 23 when the Assembly Natural Resources Committee passed the bill on a partisan 6-2 vote (with Democrats voting for the bill). SB 1199 by Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) passed the full Senate late last month with one vote to spare. Unfortunately, the bill faces even tougher votes as it advances this August to the Assembly Appropriations Committee and the full Assembly.
 
Sponsored by Friends of the River and the Foothill Conservancy, SB 1199 enjoys diverse support from numerous conservation groups, local businesses, and tourism organizations, which view the bill as contributing to the tourism economy of largely rural Calaveras and Amador Counties in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The river offers a wide range of whitewater boating opportunities and is a favorite recreational destination of thousands of local residents. The river canyon is rich in Gold Rush history and supports some of the most extensive Native American cultural values in the Sierra Nevada. Federal studies have found the river to possess outstanding and extraordinary scenic, recreational, water quality, historical, and cultural values.
 
Senator Hancock introduced the bill when the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to support state protection last February. Senator Hancock’s constituents in the eastern San Francisco Bay area directly benefit from protection of the river, which supplies high quality drinking water to 1.4 million East Bay residents. The hard-working Mokelumne River provides hydroelectricity for 200,000 people, irrigation water for thirsty farms in the Central Valley, and a dependable supply of clean water for ratepayers served by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD).
 
But the Amador County Board of Supervisors, Amador Water Agency, Calaveras County Water District, and other local water agencies have lined up in opposition to the bill, loudly (but falsely) complaining the Wild & Scenic protection of the Mokelumne will limit the local counties and water agencies from utilizing their existing water rights and prevent them from securing new water rights. Always anxious to stay on the good side of their “upcountry” water agency neighbors, a majority of the EBMUD Board of Directors have taken an “oppose unless amended” position on SB 1199, urging its sponsors to work out differences with the local water agencies.
 
Wild & Scenic protection will prohibit new dams on the protected segments of the Mokelumne River, but it won’t affect any existing dams or diversions currently used to generate hydropower or provide drinking water. It will even allow future upstream water development, as long as that development does not harm the river. But that’s the sticking point with the water agencies…they can’t envision a future that doesn’t allow them to dry the river up. Both Amador and Calaveras Counties have admitted in planning documents that they have plenty of existing water rights to meet future needs for the next 30 years and beyond.
 
As SB 1199 proceeds towards a late summer vote in the Assembly, Friends of the River and other supporters will have to reach out to southern California legislators who dominate the Assembly and are unfamiliar with northern California rivers that actually have water in them. Passage of the bill is precarious since it’s a common assumption throughout the State Legislature that new and expanded dams on northern California rivers are the solution to California’s chronic drought.
 
Friends of the River and our allies will also be in negotiations throughout July with local water agencies discussing how to protect the river while allowing for reasonable future development to meet local water needs. The future of the beautiful Mokelumne River depends on it.

sespe gorgeFederal Legislation Proposes To Protect 158 Miles Of Wild & Scenic Rivers On The Central Coast
Steve Evans, Wild & Scenic Program Coordinator
 
Representative Lois Capps has introduced legislation in Congress to protect more than 158 miles of Wild & Scenic Rivers, 245,500 acres of Wilderness, and 34,500 acres of Scenic Areas on public lands in the Central Coast counties of Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo. H.R. 4685 also proposes to establish the Condor National Recreation Trail.
 
Also known as the Central Coast Heritage Protection Act, H.R. 4685 is the product of years of discussion and negotiation, led by Rep. Capps, involving business leaders, conservationists, elected officials, ranchers, mountain bikers, and other stakeholders interested in the use and well-being of these iconic lands. Reps. Julia Brownley and Sam Farr, whose districts also include part of the proposal, have cosponsored the legislation.
 
Friends of the River and the California Wilderness Coalition played a key roll in identifying the rivers and acreage on public lands proposed for protection in the bill. Rivers and streams proposed for National Wild & Scenic Rivers protection include several small streams on the Los Padres National Forest that support important populations of threatened and endangered fish and wildlife such as the Central Coast steelhead, arroyo toad, California red-legged frog, California condor, and least Bell’s vireo. The streams proposed for protection also provide outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation.
 
Just when the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on this important bill remains to be seen. The Committee has a mixed record in regard to its treatment of public lands protection bills. In the meantime, constituents of Rep. Capps, Rep. Brownley, and Rep. Farr (residents of Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and San Benito Counties) should thank them for introducing H.R. 4685. All residents of California should email Senator Barbara Boxer and Senator Dianne Feinstein and urge them to introduce companion legislation to H.R. 4685 in the Senate.
 
 
Rivers proposed for protection in H.R. 4685 include:
  • Piru Creek – 48.1 miles
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  • Upper Sespe Creek – 20.9 miles
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  • Matilija Creek – 14.4 miles
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  • Mono Creek – 24.5 miles
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  • Indian Creek – 14.4 miles
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  • Manzana Creek & Tributaries – 36.2 miles
Get detailed descriptions of the segments proposed for protection
on our take action page.

Drain - Water & Money Learn More & Take Action
Most Irrigation Water Lost According to New Federal Study
Johnnie Carlson, River Advocate Editor
 
A recently released federal  survey on freshwater availability proved a point many already knew, the process of carrying and applying irrigation water to dry areas consumes more water than anything else each year, according to the researchers.
 
Jerad Bales, the U.S. Geological Survey chief scientist for water stated “With irrigation, most of the water is lost to the environment, and it’s what we call a consumptive use.  It’s clear that irrigation for agriculture, and for golf courses and for lawns is the largest consumptive use of water in the nation.”
 
The water “lost” to the environment is due problems such as evaporation from open canals and ponds as well as leaks in canals and pipes. Sadly, none of this lost water really makes it to the environment in any beneficial way for rivers or wildlife.
 
The greatest source of new water for California’s ever-thirsty agricultural enterprises may be the water they already have. Failure to address this waste of water could mean economic disaster for the farmers and agriculture producers who depend on water for irrigation and the environment we all depend on.
 
To read more of the study visit: http://gao.gov/products/GAO-14-430

San Gabriel AnglerRep. Judy Chu Introduces San Gabriel National Recreation Area Bill
Steve Evans, Wild & Scenic Program Coordinator
 
Representative Judy Chu has introduced legislation in Congress to establish the 615,245-acre San Gabriel National Recreation Area. The recreation area proposed in H.R. 4858 would encompass National Forest lands in the San Gabriel Mountains, as well as adjacent open space and parklands in the San Gabriel foothills, portions of the urbanized San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo, and the Puente Hills. The purpose of the recreation area is to encourage collaboration between federal, state, and local agencies to manage and improve outdoor recreation opportunities for more than 7 million residents in southern California, while protecting the important biological, ecological, and cultural values of the San Gabriel Mountains.
 
Introduction of the recreation area bill is the culmination of more than 10 years of effort by a broad coalition of conservation, environmental justice, and community groups working to improve the quality of life in the park-poor urban areas surrounding the San Gabriel Mountains and to protect the outstanding natural, recreational, and historical values of the magnificent San Gabriel Mountains.
 
As an active member of the San Gabriel Mountains Forever coalition, Friends of the River actively supported development and introduction of H.R. 4868. It was hoped that Rep. Chu would include in the bill the protection of proposed Wild & Scenic Rivers and Wilderness areas on the National Forest lands that are included in the recreation area. But concerns expressed by local governments about the potential complexity of the bill convinced Rep. Chu to introduce the recreation area proposal first. Friends of the River is working closely with her staff on the development of a separate Wild & Scenic River and Wilderness bill that will likely be introduced later this summer.
 
Streams to be protected in this future legislation include the East, West, and North Forks of the San Gabriel River, San Antonio Creek, Middle Fork Lytle Creek, and Littler Rock Creek. Stay tuned.

delta 3-2013.BDCP Lacks Consideration of Reasonable Alternatives
Bob Wright, Senior legal Counsel
 
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Draft plan and Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) are out for public review and comment at this time. Development and evaluation of a range of reasonable alternatives are the declared “heart” of both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) required EISs and EIRs. Despite that, the alternatives section (Chapter 3) of the Draft EIR/EIS and the Endangered Species Act (ESA) required Alternatives to Take section (Chapter 9) of the BDCP Draft Plan fail to include even one, let alone the CEQA, NEPA and ESA required  range of, reasonable alternatives that would increase water flows in the San Francisco Bay-Delta by reducing exports.  These serious violations of law, brought to your attention by the Environmental Water Caucus (EWC)(a coalition of over 30 nonprofit environmental and community organizations and California Indian Tribes)  and Friends of the River (FOR), require corrective action.
 
The BDCP omission of alternatives reducing exports to increase flows is deliberate. A claimed purpose of the BDCP Plan is “Reducing the adverse effects on certain listed [fish] species due to diverting water.” (BDCP Draft EIR/EIS Executive Summary, p. ES-10).  “There is an urgent need to improve the conditions for threatened and endangered fish species within the Delta.” (Id.). The omission of a range of reasonable alternatives reducing exports to increase flows violates CEQA, NEPA and the ESA.  The failure to include even one alternative reducing exports to increase flows is incomprehensible.  Alternatives reducing the exporting/diversion of water are the obvious direct response to the claimed BDCP purpose of “reducing the adverse effects on certain listed [fish] species due to diverting water.”
 
The BDCP agencies have been marching along for at least three years in the face of  “red flags flying” in their deliberate refusal to develop and evaluate a range of reasonable alternatives, or indeed, any alternatives at all, that would increase flows by reducing exports.  Three years ago the National Academy of Sciences declared in reviewing the then-current version of the draft BDCP that: “[c]hoosing the alternative project before evaluating alternative ways to reach a preferred outcome would be post hoc rationalization—in other words, putting the cart before the horse. Scientific reasons for not considering alternative actions are not presented in the plan.” (National Academy of Sciences, Report in Brief at p. 2, May 5, 2011). 
 
More than two years ago, on April 16, 2012, the Co-Facilitators of the EWC transmitted a short, 1 ½ page letter to Gerald Meral, Deputy Secretary of the California Resources Agency, sharing “concerns with the current approach and direction of the [BDCP] project and we would like to share those concerns with you.” (Letter, p. 1). Most of the paragraphs in the letter dealt with the types of issues involving consideration of alternatives. The penultimate paragraph of the letter specifically pointed out:
 
The absence of a full range of alternatives, including an alternative which would reduce exports from the Delta. It is understandable that the exporters, who are driving the project, are not interested in this kind of alternative; however, in order to be a truly permissible project, an examination of a full range of alternatives, including ones that would reduce exports, needs to be included and needs to incorporate a public trust balancing of alternatives.
 
 

Water PolicyReport: Coachella Valley Groundwater Replenishment Making Positive Impact
By Matt Williams on Thu, 06/12/2014 - 1:50pm in Groundwater  Water News
 
A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) presents another example of how a replenishment facility can have a positive impact on local groundwater levels and slow or stop land subsidence.
 
Although some land areas in Palm Desert and Indian Wells have subsided as much as two feet since the 1990s, USGS and the Coachella Valley Water District has detected slower rates of subsidence and a positive trend for water levels in La Quinta near the vicinity of the district’s Thomas E. Levy Groundwater Replenishment Facility that began operations in 2009. The system replenishes aquifers using Colorado River water.

At five locations in La Quinta, average subsidence rates decreased near the replenishment facility based on measurements taken in 2010, only one year after the facility went into full operation. USGS measured ground uplift at one of the locations with previously observed subsidence.
 
Groundwater levels have increased as much as 75 feet, according to the water district’s well monitoring within six miles of the facility. Since 2009, groundwater levels have increased an average of 26 feet in about 200 wells throughout the eastern Coachella Valley.
 
The USGS study of the Coachella Valley was funded through a cooperative agreement with CVWD. A copy of the full study, “Land Subsidence, Groundwater Levels, and Geology in the Coachella Valley, California, 1993-2010,” can be found at www.usgs.gov
 

raftingGet to Your River!: Raft the South Fork American with FOR this summer!
Stacy Alyse Wieser, Summer BBQ Outings Volunteer Trip Organizer
  
Join us on river this summer! Raft the South Fork American River this summer in June, July, or August with FOR on one of our three BBQ Weekends (see dates and ticket links below)! Raft Saturday and/or Sunday; camp Friday and/or Saturday nights; or meet us at the river for just the BBQ fundraiser on Saturday’s at 6pm!
This is an entirely guide and volunteer organized event; we ask that you consider renewing your membership or joining FOR. Join or renew by visiting FOR’s website at http://www.friendsoftheriver.org .  You can become a member as an individual or as a household.
The rafting portion of the trip is "shared cost," which means that the actual rafting expenses, i.e. transportation, food, are equally divided among the participants. Any proceeds from the BBQ are donated to FOR.
Camp Lotus does not allow pets.
  
Costs:
  • Saturday Shared Cost (Breakfast, Lunch, Day use fee, Rafting & BLM fees) $53
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  • Saturday Fundraiser BBQ Dinner $25
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  • Sunday Shared Cost (Breakfast, Lunch, Day Use fee, Rafting & BLM fees) $53
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  • Camping with rafting: $8 per night/per person
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  • Camping with-out rafting: $12 per night/per person
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  • Parking a car: $4 per day
NOTE: Camping, day use and parking fees  for Camp Lotus are to be paid to directly FOR.  Camping is $12 per night (includes $4 day use), day use is $4 per person and parking $4 per car. 
  
DATES & LINKS:
 

Black Butte RiverRiver in the Spotlight: Black Butte River & Cold Creek
Steve Evans, Wild & Scenic Program Coordinator
 
The Black Butte River flows for more than 20 miles from its source in the northern Coast Range to its confluence with the Middle Eel River. The river and its tributary, Cold Creek, provide some of the best spawning habitat for the Middle Eel’s declining chinook salmon and winter steelhead. The streams also support healthy populations of wild rainbow trout. Indeed, the trout found in Cold Creek possess a distinct color pattern resembling the rare red-banded trout.
 
The old growth forests growing along the Black Butte River and Cold Creek provide excellent habitat for the threatened northern spotted owl and the sensitive goshawk and pine martin. Dramatic rock outcrops dominate portions of both streams. The upper portion of the Black Butte River flows through a volcanic rock formation, creating a unique series of pools and falls. Much of the river canyon is prone to landslides and slumps and is quite sensitive to new road construction.
  
Black Butte Locator Map
A Native American tribe known as the Huitintno’m Yuki lived along the Black Butte River during the winter and migrated upstream in the spring in pursuit of salmon and other game. Their estimated 4,000-year tenure in the wild river canyon came to an abrupt end when European colonists slaughtered the entire tribe in the 1800’s. The concentration of cultural values and significant archeological resources left by the tribe is exceptional in the northern Coast Range region. These values are threatened by disturbance and theft associated with increased motorized access.
 
Fortunately, vehicular access to the Black Butte River and Cold Creek is limited to a few remote and rugged jeep trails. An opportunity for hikers is the Cold Creek trail, which drops down to the creek from the Plaskett Recreation Area. Most of the river flows through publicly owned National Forest lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Mendocino National Forest.
 
In 2006, 23 miles of the Black Butte River and five miles of Cold Creek were added to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System.
 
Visit FOR's page on the Black Butte River & Cold Creek in our California River Pages to learn how to get there! 

50waysbuttonRiver Saving Tip: Doing Dishes
Johnnie Carlson, Operations Director
Instead of letting the water run while you try to scrape off the dried-on food from your pots and pans, just soak them. This will not only save water, but time and energy too. http://wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/index.php
If you wash your dishes by hand don’t let the water continuously run. Turn it on and off when you need to rinse the dish off. www.epa.gov.
A good idea if you wash your dishes by hand is to use an in-sink dish rack and rinse all the dishes off at once. www.epa.gov.
Learn more about the 50 Ways to Save Your River!
 
 
June 25, 2014
Volume 4, Number 6
 
The Voice of California's Rivers
Since 1973
 
In this issue

 
FEATURES:
 

* Mokelumne Wild & Scenic Bill Passes Key Asembly Commitee!
* Most Irrigation Water Lost?
* TAKE ACTION: Federal Bill Proposes To Protect 158 Miles of Rivers On The Central Coast.
* San Gabriel National Rec. Area Bill Introduced.
* BDCP fails to consider alternitives.
* Coachella Valley Groundwater Recharge Project Halts Subsidence.

 
DEPARTMENTS:
 
* Get To The River: July & August SFA BBQ Trips.
* River in the Spotlight: Black Butte River & Cold Creek.
* River Saving Tip: Doing The Dishes.
 
 

2011joinnow
50waysbutton 


Drive that wreck into the riverbank - Friends of the River'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

The River Advocate is published by Friends of the River contact us at info@friendsoftheriver.org
   
 
 

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