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CA Natural Resources pushes, again, for control over Siskiyou rivers

California Rivers, California water, Klamath River & Dams, Salmon and fish, Scott River & Valley, Siskiyou County, State gov

PNP comment: Look at the out-of-area dictators, who want to tell Siskiyou County and its residents how we should live. — Editor Liz Bowen

Additional comment by Rex Cozallio, landowner below Irongate dam near Hornbrook, CA:

I was extremely agitated and disheartened to become aware of this proposition that would severely impact our region submitted in February by a non resident assemblywoman  out of GLENDALE, California ‘sponsored’ (paid for) by ‘Friends of the River’, and ‘supported’ by 23 more profiting ‘non-profits’ and NO OPPOSITION!  This relentless onslaught, mounting countless paid for attacks with the ever-expanding objective of effectively confiscating vested private and public property without compensation or  impacted regional input, must end.  Quickly and quietly shoved through lobbied ‘legislative process’, their obvious and successful theory is that a certain portion will sneak through before sufficient public awareness, further empowering the unelected policy-driven bureaucratic power base permitting public oppression and the further social/economic division of classes.  This ‘provision’ adds an incredible, ridiculous, and impossible-to-survive complete and unimpeded REWILDING of the affected regional rivers, particularly the Klamath, Scott, and Shasta.  It not only prescribes unrestricted ‘natural’ accretion and avulsion of riparian property, it discretionarily restricts ANY use of riparian areas within a QUARTER OF A MILE of EACH side of the rivers.

In searching for the legislation last night, the ONLY reference I could find that wasn’t an unrelated 2013 Bill of the same number, was the sponsoring ‘Friends of the River’ website.  A link within that led to the Assembly woman’s promotional page.  From multiple calls I found out the Bill I heard about last night is in Natural Resource committee ‘hearings’ TODAY.  The only other ‘opportunity’ to publically ‘respond’ will be at the next as yet unscheduled or posted Administrative/Budgetary hearing.

After talking to the ‘legislative analyst’ Michael Jered about the unnotified and most impacted regions in opposition, I was admonished on several fronts.  Unequivocally saying that failing to access the information was my and the local representatives’ fault since it was submitted in February, and that I should take up any complaints with them, he graciously allowed that I may write a letter of opposition which he could ‘place in the file’, even though it would not be acknowledged, but would be ‘available’ in the event someone ‘wanted to read it’.

He also said I could have certainly gone to Sacramento to testify to the Committee ‘if I wanted’, but of course that ‘would not be possible for today’ and any failure to go to legis.ca.gov to inform myself was ‘my problem’, and that is ‘just the way the process works’.

Telling him it did not show up on a search of that site, he assured me that it was there and I just wasn’t doing it right.  Insisting I was wrong, he went to the legis site and said ‘just look at the 2015-2016 legislation’,  at which point he hesitated and said ‘oh, I guess they haven’t posted the years legislation yet’ (in March, and this is the first he knew?).

If you wish to call him, his number is 916-319-2092, but it appears the only way to impact the progression now is to actively push to somehow track it AFTER it no doubt passes through Committee today, the point at which we would likely have been the most able to rescind.

All the Best,

Rex Cozzalio

 

CA ab975..please read time sensitive, hearing date March 20th

Date of Hearing: March 20, 2017

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES

Cristina Garcia, Chair

ABPCA Bill Id:AB 975 (

Author:Friedman) – As Introduced Ver:February 16, 2017

SUBJECT:  Natural resources:  wild and scenic rivers

SUMMARY:  Adds “historical, cultural, geological, ecological, hydrological (i.e., unique source, direction, or quantity of water flows), botanical or other values” to the values that certain rivers possess and the state should preserve.  Expands the area protected in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System (System) from immediately adjacent to the river segment to within a quarter mile of the river.

EXISTING LAW, pursuant to the California Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (Act):

  • Declares that it is the policy of the state that certain rivers that possess extraordinary scenic, recreational, fishery, or wildlife values be preserved in their “free-flowing” state, together with their immediate environments, for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the state. Declares that such use of these rivers is the highest and most beneficial use and is a reasonable and beneficial use of water.

  • Defines “free-flowing” as existing or flowing without artificial impoundment, diversion, or other modification of the river. (The presence of low dams, diversion works, and other minor structures does not automatically bar a river’s inclusion within the System.)

  • Requires that those rivers or segments of rivers included in the System be classified as one of the following:

    1. Wild rivers, which are those rivers or segments of rivers that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and waters unpolluted;

  1. Scenic rivers, which are those rivers or segments of rivers that are free of impoundments, with shorelines or watersheds still largely primitive and shorelines largely undeveloped but accessible in places by roads; or

  1. Recreational rivers, which are those rivers or segments of rivers that are readily accessible by road or railroad, may have some development along their shorelines, and may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past.

  • Designates several California rivers and segments thereof as components of the System.

  • Requires the Natural Resources Agency (NRA) to be responsible for coordinating the activities of state agencies whose activities affect the rivers in the System with those of other state, local, and federal agencies with jurisdiction over matters that may affect the rivers.

FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown

 

COMMENTS:

  • Author’s statement:

AB 975 brings the California Wild and Scenic Rivers System more in line with the federal system, improving state management of rivers that enjoy dual state-federal designation, and allowing for the protection of existing and future state rivers that possess additional values beyond those currently mentioned in the Act.

  • The Act. The Act was passed in 1972 to preserve designated rivers possessing extraordinary scenic, recreation, fishery, or wildlife values.  With its initial passage, the System protected segments of the Smith River and tributaries, Klamath River and tributaries, Scott River, Salmon River, Trinity River, Eel River, Van Duzen River, and American River.  The System was subsequently expanded by the Legislature to include the East Carson and West Walker Rivers in 1989, the South Yuba River in 1999, the Albion River and Gualala Rivers in 2003, and Cache Creek in 2005.  In addition, segments of the McCloud River, Deer Creek, and Mill Creek were protected under the Act in 1989 and 1995 respectively, although these segments were not formally designated as components of the System.

The Act provides a number of legal protections for rivers included within the System, beginning with the following legislative declaration:

It is the policy of the State of California that certain rivers which possess extraordinary scenic, recreational, fishery, or wildlife values shall be preserved in their free-flowing state, together with their immediate environments, for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the state.  The Legislature declares that such use of these rivers is the highest and most beneficial use and is a reasonable and beneficial use of water within the meaning of Section 2 of Article X of the California Constitution.

The Act defines “free-flowing” as “existing or flowing without artificial impoundment, diversion, or other modification of the river.”  The existence of minor structures, or even major dams located upstream or downstream of a specific segment, does not preclude a river from designation.  Several rivers, such as the Klamath, Trinity, Eel, and Lower American, are included in the System despite substantial flow modifications by existing upstream dams and impoundments.

No dam, reservoir, diversion, or other water impoundment facility may be constructed on any river segment included in the System.  However, there are exemptions, which include temporary flood storage facilities on the Eel River and temporary recreational impoundments on river segments with a history of such impoundments.  NRA cannot authorize these temporary recreational impoundments without first making a number of findings.

A cornerstone of the Act is the non-degradation clause, which prohibits new projects and activities from adversely affecting the free-flowing condition and natural character of river segments included in the System.

The Act was patterned after the 1968 National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (Federal Act).  The state and federal Acts share similar criteria and definitions in regard to the purpose of protecting rivers, the identification of free flowing rivers and extraordinary or outstanding values suitable for protection, establishing a study process to include rivers in the system, as well as an identical classification system.  The primary purpose of both the state and federal Acts is to prohibit new water impoundments on designated rivers.

  • Consistency with the Federal Act. The state Act differs from the Federal Act in that it does not recognize as many river values.  The additional values in the Federal Act include historical, cultural, geologic, and “other similar” values.  Federal agencies have interpreted “similar” values to include ecological, botanical, and hydrological.  When NRA studied the East Carson and West Walker Rivers they found them to have extraordinary hydrological values.  However, that value is not in the Act.  AB 975 adds the additional values considered by Federal agencies, but it also adds “other” values.  This differs from the Federal Act because it is vague compared to “other similar” values.  The author and committee may wish to consider amending the bill to reflect the Federal Act by using “other similar” values.

The Federal Act also creates protections within a quarter mile of a river in the system.  The state Act defines immediate environments to be immediately adjacent to the river, and defines river to include up to the first line of permanently established riparian vegetation.  AB 975 would align the state Act with the Federal Act by defining immediate environments to include within quarter mile of segments of the river.  This change would have the effect of directing state and local governments to act in a manner that protects the additional immediate environment.  In addition, AB 975 would provide more consistent direction for rivers in the federal System that the state manages.

  • Previous legislation.

AB 142 (Bigelow), Chapter 661, Statutes of 2015, requires, prior to the designation of the Mokelumne River, the NRA to conduct a study analyzing the suitability or non-suitability of the Mokelumne River, its tributaries, or portions of the river for addition to the System.

SB 1199 (Hancock, 2014) would have designated a 37-mile portion of the Mokelumne River in Calaveras and Amador Counties in the Sierra Nevada as a wild and scenic river.  SB 1199 was held in the Assembly Appropriation Committee.

SB 904 (Chesbro), Chapter 545, Statutes of 2004, requires state agencies to protect the free-flowing character and extraordinary values of designated rivers and to clarify that Special Treatment Areas under the Forest Practices Rules are applied to rivers classified as recreational or scenic as well as those classified as wild.

REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:

Support

American Rivers
American Whitewater
Butte Environmental Council
California Water Impact Network
California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
California Outdoors
California Wilderness Coalition
CalTrout
Coast Action Group
Defenders of Wildlife
Foothill Conservancy
Friends of the Eel River

Friends of the River
KIER Associates
Merced River Conservation Committee
Natural Resources Defense Council
Northcoast Environmental Center
Northern California Council International Federation of Fly Fishers
North Fork American River Alliance
Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations
Sacramento River Preservation Trust
Safe Alternatives For Our Forest Environment
Sierra Club California
South Yuba River Citizens League

Two individuals

Opposition

None on file

Analysis Prepared by:   Michael Jarred / NAT. RES. /

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