Monday, June 14, 2010

Auburn Dam Park

Rather than the direction advocated by this editorial from the Sacramento Bee, it is heartening that the Bureau of Reclamation is stopping funding of the area as a park while it still remains a congressionally approved dam site.

At some point, one hopes, pubic leadership will realize that the building of Auburn Dam is the only way to ensure a 500 year level of flood protection, as we posted on earlier—while also providing adequate water storage to ensure the optimal river flow and water temperature to maintain a healthy salmon run in the Lower American River—and will move forward in constructing the dam.

We also published a research report in 2006 about it, The American River Parkway, Protecting its Integrity and Providing Water or the River Running Through it: A Report on the Auburn Dam Policy Environment, which is posted to our website.

An excerpt from the Editorial.

“The magnificent canyons and semiwilderness of the north and middle forks of the American River are some of the treasures of this region. Since 1977, California State Parks has managed this vast and rugged area for the federal government.

“The Auburn State Recreation Area is one of the most popular units in the state park system, drawing nearly a million visitors a year for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, swimming, boating, fishing, whitewater rafting, mountain biking and other activities.

“Then came a bombshell.

"Feds back off park funding," read The Bee's headline of June 8.

“Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Pete Lucero said the agency would "provide enough funds to keep the park open for the rest of this year" (through Sept. 30). He said Reclamation hoped "to secure cost-sharing agreements with other federal, state and local agencies by September to cover future operations."

“Lucero modified that on Friday, saying Reclamation would provide funding to keep the park open through Sept. 30, 2011. This year's funding of $1.4 million for the park will go down to $1.1 million next year.

“This news came on top of Reclamation's earlier abrupt halt to a three-year joint planning process for the recreation area with State Parks. In December 2008, Reclamation told the state that it "would not be prudent to proceed" with planning for the recreation area until future management for the federal lands within the Auburn dam project area was resolved….

“Congress authorized a dam in this area in 1965 that, for a variety of reasons, has never been built. But the dam has never been decommissioned, so it is still a project on paper.

“A 1978 plan for the recreation area assumes a reservoir, as does a 1992 "interim" plan. And the position of Reclamation continues to be that it will not approve "significant permanent recreation facilities within the take line of the dam area or a potential Auburn Reservoir."