Wednesday, August 29, 2007

American River Work

On the Auburn Dam site, work related to the closure of the diversion tunnel continues.

On course for change
Views vary as river restoration nears
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
Monday, August 27, 2007

With the American River restoration effort nearing completion, current canyon users are coming to the realization that what they have now will be dramatically altered once the river starts flowing naturally again.

On Sunday, the one day of the week the trails down to the dam site on both the El Dorado and Placer County sides are open to recreational users, the canyon was teeming with activity.

Auburn teacher Larry Alberts was mountain biking through the site, excited about the imminent re-channeling of the river.

"I'm for getting rid of the diversion tunnel and putting the river back to where it belongs," Alberts said. "I saw the river here before there was a diversion dam, before the scar."

Alberts said he recently traveled to Yosemite for the first time and came back more impressed with the canyon.

"Yosemite was magnificent but I see the same views on this river," Alberts said.

Lincoln's Ray Bailey dropped down into the canyon on his quarter horse for a 15-mile out-and-back ride. He said the trek came with the realization that it would be one of his last over the dam site. Once the tunnel was sealed and the river re-routed, the crossing would be no more.

Bailey said that his options in the canyon would be limited after that - until a bridge over the river at or near the site is built.

"We've found this a pleasant place to ride," Bailey said.

The road down to the canyon off Maidu Drive was built as part of a network of service roads for Auburn dam construction. It's now off-limits to the public except on Sundays and Ron Jenkins was walking the wide, paved road in the cool of the morning.

"It's nice to walk in what's really an abandoned place and not have to worry about traffic," Jenkins said.