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August 18, 2011: Vol. 1, #8

In This Issue:
Save the Date: California River Awards - Oct. 28 
Concert for the Mokelumne - Berkeley Marina - Oct 2
Governor Signs Bill to Extend In-River Mining Ban
More Protection For Yuba River Salmon
Merced River Update: Congressman fails geography
War On Nature Update: No reason to remove trees

River News & Events

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SAVE THE DATE:
California River Awards
October 28, 2011

Don't Miss the River Party of the Year!

On October 28th, Friends of the River will honor some of California’s exceptional river heroes: the founders of the Tuolumne River Trust and Congressman Sam Farr.  Please mark your calendar for this fun and memorable evening.

WHEN: Friday, October 28, 6-9 pm
WHERE: The Golden Gate Club, The Presidio,San Francisco
WHAT: For nearly two decades, Friends of the River’s annual California River Awards has recognized those who have championed the preservation of California’s rivers.  This festive October evening features great food and fine wine, as well as silent and live auctions.  Preceding the event will be a special Sponsor Reception featuring a presentation on the founding of the Tuolumne River Trust.
LINK: California River Awards Page

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Concert to Save the Mokelumne River! Oct 2: 12 noon- 4pm
Tickets $10 - under 16 free!

Bring the whole family and join FOR, The Foothill Conservancy, OCSC Sailing School and OARS for a concert to benefit FOR's efforts to save the Mokelumne from a threatened raise of Pardee Dam by East Bay MUD.

The concert features the band - Over the Edge (pictured below), inspirational presentations on the Mokelumne River and how you can help save your river! Tickets are $10 for adults, children under 16 are free with paid adult entrance. Visit www.friendsoftheriver.org/forthemoke to learn more and buy tickets. Special thanks to our concert sponsors, OARS, OCSC Sailing School, Foothill Conservancy and Over the Edge!

OverTheEdge

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FOR wins one for our Rivers!Governor Signs Bill to Extend In-River Mining Ban

In August, Governor Brown signed an appropriations bill that extends the current moratorium on suction dredge mining in California rivers for at least five years or until new regulations are adopted and implemented that fully mitigate all significant impacts from this destructive and polluting mining practice.

Friends of the River and other conservation and fishing groups, along with Native American Tribes, secured the moratorium on suction dredge mining from the Legislature in 2009. The California Department of Fish & Game (CDFG) proposed new regulations this year that would allow the resumption of mining in state and national parks, wild & scenic rivers, Native American reservations, and mercury-impaired waterways. In its environmental review, CDFG admitted that its new regulations would result in significant and unavoidable adverse impacts on water quality, wildlife, local noise ordinances, and cultural and historical values.

Concerned that the state would adopt new regulations that fail to mitigate significant impacts, Friends of the River and its allies successfully lobbied the Legislature earlier this summer to include appropriations language maintaining the mining moratorium until new regulations are adopted that fully mitigate all significant impacts. Another issue that convinced the Legislature to intervene is the fact it costs state taxpayers $450 per permit in administration and enforcement costs while the state charges less than $50 for each mining permit.

Suction dredge mining for gold has been pervasive on manyCaliforniarivers and streams for years. This form of mining uses a powerful motor and pump, attached to a hose that is used to suction up gravel from the stream bottom. Gold is then sorted out from the gravel and the remaining sediment-ladened water is flushed back into the stream. The adverse impacts of this mining are well documented by scientists and government agencies. Suction dredging can harm habitat for sensitive, threatened, and endangered fish and frogs, as well as release toxic mercury left over from the Gold Rush into the stream.

Released this spring, the state’s proposed mining regulations are confusing and poorly written. Fish and Game deliberately avoided addressing significant water quality, wildlife, and cultural/historical impacts of mining. The draft regulations also opened to mining many rivers and streams that had been closed in the previous regulations to protect threatened and endangered fish and amphibians. In addition, the proposed regulations would allow mining in state and national parks, wild & scenic rivers, and wild trout streams.

Fish and Game is evaluating how to proceed in response to the new state mandate to fully mitigate all impacts of its suction dredge mining permit program. Friends of the River believes that the mandate will require revised regulations that reduce water quality, wildlife habitat, archeological/historical resources, and noise impacts to less than significant levels, as well as new opportunities for the public to comment on the regulations. Friends of the River will keep its members informed when Fish and Game determines its next steps.

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New Court Decision Provides More Protection For Yuba River Salmon

In response to a lawsuit requesting injunctive relief filed by Friends of the River (FOR) and the South Yuba River Citizen’s League (SYRCL), a federal judge required the Corps of Engineers to take interim steps to protect and restore threatened spring Chinook salmon on the lower Yuba River

FOR and SYRCL had already secured a ruling by the federal court requiring the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop a new biological opinion to protect salmon from the operations of the Englebright and Daguerre Point dams on the river – two structures owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In his ruling providing injunctive relief, federal Judge Lawrence Karlton required the Corps to take immediate steps to correct upstream migration problems caused by the Daguerre Point Dam, including installing and managing flash boards on the dam, inspecting and clearing debris from the dam’s fish ladders, managing upstream sediment to maintain sufficient flows into the fish ladders, and installing grates over the ladders to prevent poaching. In addition, Judge Karlton required the Corps to develop a plan to preserve the genetic integrity of the river’s threatened spring Chinook salmon by segregating this seasonal run from fall salmon.

These are all interim measures intended to protect salmon until the new biological opinion is produced by the National Marine Fisheries Service. FOR, SYRCL, and other conservation organizations believe that the new opinion must take a serious look at removing and/or modifying both Englebright and Daguerre dams to protect and restore the Yuba’s salmon runs. Englebright currently blocks 100% of the Yuba’s salmon migration. Daguerre dam downstream impedes migration of up to 60% of the salmon run due to its poorly designed and maintained fish ladders.

For a copy of Judge Karlton’s ruling, contact Steve Evans at sevans@friendsoftheriver.org.

Salmon

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Merced River Update: Our Congress: unclear on the geography, unclear on the concept

In June and July, the House National Parks Subcommittee held two hearings on two separate bills by Representative Jeff Denham (D-Modesto) to allow Lake McClure Reservoir to occupy a portion of theMerced RiverNationalWild & ScenicRiver.  Friends of the River testified at the June hearing arguing that national wild and scenic rivers are supposed to be permanently protected from being turned into reservoirs.  However, the subcommittee Republicans seemed unable to understand the distinction between a flat-water reservoir and a living, free-flowing river (they’re both made from water, after all!)

The hearing bordered even more on the bizarre as the Merced Irrigation District argued that one end of its reservoir was sixty feet higher than the other and Representative Denham seemed to think that a larger Lake McClure Reservoir (well downstream of Yosemite National Park) would prevent overbank flows in Yosemite Valley far upstream. (Both ideas obviously wrong.)

However, the measure (probably HR 2578 rather than HR 869) is expected to win easy passage in the House Interior Committee soon after Congress returns from its August recess. The timing of floor action is then up to the House leadership, including the House majority whip, Kevin McCarthy, who is a cosponsor of both bills.

Clearly, we have a huge job in front of us with this Congress.  It’s a good time to talk to your Representatives and Senators — and get the word out thatAmerica’s wild & scenic rivers are in jeopardy from a Congress that just doesn’t get it.

Read more and take action on our Merced River page!

 

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River Tips & Features

 

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Help us save YOUR river and have your gift DOUBLED!

We have an increadbly generous supporter who will match dollar-for-dollar what our members donate by September 15th, 2011! We have already raised $3,500 so far in this effort! Your gift today can help FOR take advantage of this wonderful offer and make the difference for the river you love.

Give your river a voice and join FOR or give an additional gift today!

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Donate Your Car to Your River!

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 1-877-277-7487 extension 2811

 

 

 

San Antonio Creek RapidRiver in the Spotlight

San Antonio Creek

 

San Antonio Creek rises from the melting snows of Mt. San Antonio (also known by southland residents as Mt. Baldy). Much of the watershed is an area of high ecological significance. The creek tumbles down through a steep alpine canyon with spectacular views. It then drops through a series of four waterfalls, culminating in 80-foot high San Antonio Falls. The magnificent lower falls is a relatively easy 1.4-mile roundtrip walk from the Manker Flat parking area. This walk provides a fine destination for a family picnic. One mile of the creek upstream of the lower falls is proposed by Friends of the River for Wild River designation and part of it is located in a proposed addition to the Sheep Mountain Wilderness. The remaining 3 miles of the creek downstream of the falls is proposed as a Recreational river.

Visit FOR's San Antonio Creek Page

   
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   To Visit FOR's River Action Center - click below.
 

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The River Advocate is published on a monthly basis by Friends of the River.

 

 

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Support Rivers by Giving at Work! To find out more email us at: workplacegiving@friendsoftheriver.org

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Information & Advocacy Tables

FOR Outreach Events

Help share the word about wild rivers!

 
Sept 10 & 11- Gear Swap & American River Paddle Festival 
Sept 16-18 - American River Music Festival
Oct 2 - Concert to Save the Moke - Berkeley Marina
Oct 28 - California River Awards - Golden Gate Club in the Presidio of San Francisco

To volunteer to table with FOR or to find out how to volunteer email us at: info@friendsoftheriver.org

 

 

 

 Mokelumne 
PHOTO: Mokelumne River, Tim Palmer

 

 

 

 

Army's War on Nature Update: Corps of Enginers own review finds no reason riverside trees should be clear-cut

Friends of the River, along with Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity, filed suit against the Army Corps of Engineers in June to require the Corps to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement under the National Environmental Policy Act and also to consult with fish and wildlife agencies under the Endangered Species Act before requiring the destruction of all woody vegetation including trees on and within 15 feet of levees in California and throughout the nation.  Simply put, the plaintiffs contend that the Corps has put the cart before the horse by decreeing that trees are bad for levees; trees must go, without having analyzed whether trees weaken or instead strengthen levees and without having analyzed the environmental, endangered species habitat, and aesthetic consequences of its decision.  

On July 27, 2011,  FOR and its co-plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment set for hearing on October 5, 2011 in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.   The plaintiffs filed a brief and submitted over 12,000 pages of exhibits on discs supporting the motion asking the Court to render judgment that the Corps has failed to proceed in the manner required by law before requiring the removal of vegetation from the levees. Plaintiffs seek to compel the Corps to comply with law before taking any further steps to require tree removals. 

The motion pointed out that in a preliminary literature review conducted by the Corps back in 2007, the Corps “found that no documented evidence exists to prove trees negatively influence levee integrity.”  In an interesting “crossing in the mail”, the Corps finally released and posted on the web its four year long in the making final literature review  just as plaintiffs were filing their motion for summary judgment.  On July 26, 2011, the Corps finally posted and made available to the public its new literature review entitled “Literature Review – Vegetation on Levees,”  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center.  Though the Review had a “December 2010” date on the cover, it was posted July 26, 2011 on the web site:  http://wri.susace.army.mil/woodyvegetation_research

After all this time, one of the conclusions of the Corps’ review is that: “both benefits and risks of converting wooded levees to grass-covered levees, including the engineering feasibility and economic costs of such conversion, have yet to be fully documented.”  (Review, p. 16) 

The plaintiffs will be bringing this new Corps Literature Review to the attention of the Court.  Meanwhile, it is astonishing that the Corps is attempting to require the clear-cutting of all levee vegetation when there is no scientific evidence that trees endanger levees, trees and levees have co-existed for decades, clear-cutting the levees would destroy habitat for endangered species and destroy the scenic beauty of our rivers, and cost billions of dollars for no demonstrable good purpose whatsoever.

Neither the law suit nor the summary judgment motion would have been possible without the hard work on this issue by FOR ranging from Senior Policy AdvocateRon Stork’s work over the past four years to the legal work this year by FOR’s legal team including volunteer summer law clerks.

 

 

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