Wild & Scenic Mokelumne Update

Wild and Scenic designation protects the river and benefits local residents

Fishing next to boulder
(c) 2007 Carolyn Silva
Fishing on North Fork Mokelumne below Salt Springs Dam

California Wild and Scenic River designation for the Mokelumne River will protect important cultural and historic resources, benefit local residents, protect wildlife and fish habitat, protect important drinking water resources, and ensure children have a place to learn about nature.

The Mokelumne is a sparkling gem of nature where the sights, scents and sounds of nature prevail. Its dense forest, giant boulders, abundant trout, fragrant azaleas and wildlife share the river with people searching for solitude, excitement, or family fun.

The Mokelumne River was home to the northern Mi-Wuk people for more than 2,500 years. It also played an important role in the development of hydroelectric power in California in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, it provides high-quality drinking water for local residents and the East Bay.

Benefits local residents and has their support

  • Ensures continued use of the river for fishing, kayaking, gold panning, and camping.
  • Prevents outside interests from building new dams on our river.
  • Good for the local economy: may attract visitors who spend money in local businesses. Adds another “best of” distinction for tourism marketing. Kayaking is one of the nation’s fastest-growing sports.
  • Provides educational opportunities for children.
  • Supported by local residents from all walks of life.

Recognizes and protects important cultural and historical resources

The Mokelumne is a sparkling gem of nature
  • The Mi-Wuk people and their ancestors called the river canyon home for more than 2,500 years.
  • The river is a historic trade route that linked the indigenous people of the western Sierra with Eastern Sierra and Great Basin tribes.
  • Local native people continue to use the river for plant gathering and other traditional uses.
  • The North Fork Mokelumne canyon below Salt Springs Dam is unique because of its "extensive archaeological sites," with remains of such antiquity considered "rare in most of California." (U.S. Forest Service Wild and Scenic Study/Draft EIS, 1990).
  • The river is home to some of the earliest and most important hydroelectric project sites in California, including the site of the original Blue Lakes Powerhouse. The BLM study document says, "electrification of the region as a result of those early projects is significant, with far-reaching implications for American society and culture."
  • The lower segments include well-preserved early mining sites and the remains of gold processing facilities.

Protects the river’s high water quality and its scenic beauty

  • Remarkable scenic beauty and opportunities for solitude in the North Fork canyon and on the river itself
  • Lush riverside habitat, dense forests, rare wildlife, steep granite walls, deep canyon walls and beautiful rapids
  • Impressive geologic formations including Calaveras Dome and the Devil's Nose
  • Excellent opportunities for solitude, with rugged beauty, removed from civilized surroundings, but easily reached from urban areas in the Central Valley and East Bay
  • Water prized for its high quality serves local residents and the East Bay

Protects the river’s fish and wildlife

Fishing along the Mokelumne
  • Noteworthy trout fishery
  • Wildlife includes black bears, deer, foothill yellow-legged frogs, otters and pine martens
  • Birds include goshawk, California spotted owl, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, black phoebe, various duck species, dipper and many more

Provides places for children to learn about nature, culture and history

  • Easy access to Electra beaches allows families to teach children about rivers, wildlife, eagles and waterfowl
  • River recreation teaches young people responsible outdoor behavior and allows them to test their skills and judgment
  • The many cultural and historical resources offer lessons for children and families
  • Beaches, riverside campgrounds, swimming holes
  • Places to fish, pan for gold, hike, bird watch, swim, rock climb and more
THE FOOTHILL CONSERVANCY  |  35 Court Street, Suite 1   Jackson, CA  95642  |  209-223-3508