Wild & Scenic Mokelumne Update

Mokelumne River State Wild and Scenic Information
The Mokelumne is California's 15th state Wild and Scenic River
Wild and Scenic logo
Thirty-seven miles of the North Fork and Main Stem of the Mokelumne River between Salt Springs and Pardee Reservoir were added to the California Wild and Scenic Rivers System with the signing of Senate Bill 854. The bill was supported by conservation groups, local businesses, county boards of supervisors, and local water agencies. The designation bars new or larger dams on the designated river reaches and requires the state to protect the river's scenic and recreational values.
April 2018: State recommends Wild and Scenic designation for Mokelumne
Image of study cover
On April 18, 2018, the California Natural Resources Agency released its final Mokelumne River State Wild and Scenic Study Report. The report recommends adding 37 miles of the Mokelumne between Salt Springs Dam and Pardee Reservoir to the California Wild and Scenic Rivers system. You can review the report, appendices and press releases on the CNRA website.

The CNRA received more than 1,700 comments on the draft report issued earlier this year. The "overwhelming majority" supported the report's recommendations

We'd like to thank everyone who took the time to attend the related public hearing in Mokelumne Hill or to send in comments on the study.

Adding the Mokelumne to the California Wild and Scenic Rivers System will require an act of the Legislature and approval by the governor. As of May 7, the Amador Water Agency and Calaveras County Water District have both supported designating the Mokelumne a California Wild and Scenic River with the special provisions recommended in the final report. Friends of the River and Foothill Conservancy support the designations and special provision language.

Video of Wild and Scenic public hearing in Mokelumne HIll
Couldn't make the California Natural Resources Agency Mokelumne River Wild and Scenic Study public hearing in Mokelumne Hill? You can view a video of the presentations and comments here.
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Gov. Brown signs AB 142, the Mokelumne Wild and Scenic River study bill
On Friday, October 9, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 142, the Mokelumne Wild and Scenic River study bill. His action followed a September 10 final, 74-1 vote in the California Assembly. AB 142 was introduced by Assemblyman Bigelow early this year.

Amendments made to the bill in the Senate and approved by the Assembly will require the Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Authority to pay up to one-half of the cost of the required study; extend the study period to two years ending December 31, 2017; set December 31, 2021, as the latest final date of the interim protections provided by the bill; and make other changes agreed to by the key parties involved, including Foothill Conservancy and Friends of the River.

AB 142 was supported by Amador and Calaveras County water agencies and boards of supervisors, environmental and recreation groups, the East Bay Municipal Utility District and the California Farm Bureau Federation.

AB 142 amended to provide Mokelumne River protection
In January, Assemblymember Frank Bigelow (R-O'Neals) introduced Assembly Bill 142, which calls for more study of the Mokelumne River, with a focus on water supply and climate change, before it could be protected with state Wild and Scenic River protection. Foothill Conservancy originally opposed the bill, announcing our opposition in this news release with Friends of the River. We identified a number of problems with the original bill and were joined in opposing AB 142 by about 50 conservation and fish organizations, tribal interests and businesses, including local businesses.

Then on Monday, March 23, AB 142's author accepted several amendments from the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, which largely resolve our issues with the bill. He also stated in the committee hearing that the bill was not intended to delay Wild and Scenic designation and that he could support Wild and Scenic protection if recommended as a result of the study. River conservation groups support the bill moving forward now as a positive step toward permanent protection of the Mokelumne.

Among other things, the amendments will:

  • Name the Mokelumne upstream of Pardee Reservoir as a potential addition to the state Wild and Scenic River System.
  • Establish the deadline for the study as December 31, 2016.
  • Limit the water supply study to "feasible projects and foreseeable demands" and the climate change study to climate's effects on river values and water supply.
  • Require that the study will provide for input from a broad range of stakeholders.
  • Analyze the effect of previous state Wild and Scenic designations on water rights applications and any water rights granted after designation.
  • Add protections for the river, including a bar on construction of new dams and diversions on the river upstream of Pardee Reservoir and a ban on state funding or assistance for projects, including planning, that could harm the free-flowing condition and natural character of the same river reaches. Those protections will stay in place until the implementation of any Wild and Scenic designation recommendations resulting from the study.
The bill faces some obstacles ahead. Funding for the study will need to be found, and it may be difficult to complete the study by the deadline.

SB 1199, 2014 Mokelumne state Wild and Scenic River bill
On April 4,2014, Senate Bill 1199 was introduced by Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland) to protect the Mokelumne with state Wild and Scenic River designation. Read the news here. The bill passed through the Senate Natural Resources Committee, Senate Appropriations Committee, the full Senate and the Assembly Natural Resources Committee (see committee staff analysis of the bill).

Unfortunately, on August 14, the Assembly Appropriations Committee failed to move the bill to the Assembly for a full floor vote by holding it in the committee's "suspense file." Since the bill will miss the August 15 deadline for fiscal committee action, it is effectively dead for this legislative session. You can learn more by reading the related press release.

We'd like to thank bill author Sen. Loni Hancock and the many individuals, local officials, businesses, and organizations who worked hard to pass SB 1199. We'll be back!

Effects of designation
Wondering what state Wild and Scenic designation will and won't do? Here's your answer.
Benefits to local economy
As O.A.R.S. President and Founder George Wendt points out in his guest editorial in the Calaveras Enterprise, protecting the Mokelumne with state Wild and Scenic River designation is good for our local economy. It's hard to have river tourism if you don't have a river.
Calaveras County supports state designation
On February 25, 2014, the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to support California Wild and Scenic River designation for the Mokelumne River. They revisited the question on July 29 and reaffirmed their support in a 4-1 vote. You can read their resolution here.
Our cover letter to the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors before their February 25 meeting.

City of Oakland supports SB 1199 and Wild and Scenic Protection for the Moke
On Tuesday, July 29, 2014, the Oakland City Council vote to support SB 1199 and Wild and Scenic River designation for the Mokelumne River. See their resolution here (click on the link for the supplemental report).
SB 1199 supporters (partial list)
  • Calaveras County
  • City of Oakland
  • Foothill Conservancy (Co-Sponsor)
  • Friends of the River (Co-Sponsor)
  • AquAlliance
  • Amador County Democratic Central Committee
  • Amador Eye Care Associates
  • Amador Olive Oil
  • American Rivers
  • American Whitewater
  • Black Bear Inn
  • Blue Mountain Coalition for Youth and Families
  • Burger Bar
  • Butte Environmental Council
  • Calaveras Planning Coalition
  • California Coastkeeper
  • California Democratic Party
  • California Environmental Water Caucus
  • California League of Conservation Voters
  • California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
  • California Save Our Streams Council
  • California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
  • California Striped Bass Association
  • California Valley Miwok Tribe
  • California Water Impact Network
  • California Wildlife Foundation
  • Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Stockton
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center
  • Citizens Water Watch
  • Clean Water Action
  • Community Water Center
  • Defenders of Wildlife
  • Delta Fly Fishers
  • Desal Response Group
  • Destination Angels Camp
  • Doke Sushi
  • Ebbetts Pass Sporting Goods
  • Earth Law Center
  • Environmental Justice Coalition for Water
  • Environmental Protection Information Center
  • Fish Sniffer
  • Fly on Fish Gear

  • Food and Water Watch
  • Main Street Brokers Real Estate
  • Galvin Reels
  • Glory Hole Sports
  • Goin’ Postal
  • Golden Gate Audubon Society
  • Golden West Women Flyfishers
  • Humbug Creek Farm
  • Institute for Fisheries Resources
  • Jackson City Councilman Keith Sweet
  • Karmere Vineyards
  • Karuk Tribe
  • Kirk’s Hydro
  • Klamath Riverkeeper
  • Lower Sherman Island Duck Club
  • MyValleySprings.com
  • Natural Heritage Institute
  • Northern California Council Federation of Fly Fishers
  • O.A.R.S. Companies, Inc
  • Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman's Association
  • Petroglyphe Gallery
  • Planning and Conservation League
  • Restore the Delta
  • Sacramento River Preservation Trust
  • Santa Clarita for Planning and the Environment
  • Sierra Business Council
  • Sierra Club California
  • Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter
  • Sierra Nevada Adventure Co., Inc.
  • Sierra Nevada Alliance
  • Southern California Watershed Alliance
  • Sutter Creek City Councilman Tim Murphy
  • Terre Rouge and Easton Wines
  • The Feed Barn Country Store
  • Trout Unlimited
  • Tuolumne River Trust
  • Twisted Oak Winery
  • Upcountry News
  • Volcano Press
  • West Point News,
  • Winnemem Wintu Tribe
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