Thursday, November 19, 2009


McCloud River - support restoration of natural water flows in this beautiful whitewater river (Siskyou County & Shasta County, California, USA).

Relicensing of McCloud Dam provides a rare opportunity ensure that this public resource is managed for the benefit of all people who wish to enjoy it.

Please write letters or emails in support of water flow restoration & conservation of the wild and scenic McCloud River.

Guest Author: Dave Steindorf, California Stewardship Director, American Whitewater.

American Whitewater has been working for three years to get improved flows on the McCloud River, quite possibly the best class III/ IV wilderness run in California. In order for this to become a reality we need your support! We need to get letters off to the Forest Service and other agencies ASAP to show that whitewater boaters are interested in the McCloud River. The agencies have proposed a flow schedule that we are happy about. This flow schedule mimics the natural hydrograph by having high flows in the spring. These flows will provide two months of good boating in an above normal year and one month in a below normal water year.

Unfortunately, some of our angling brethren are not happy about this flow schedule because these flows could cut into some angling days. They have been engaged in a scorched earth letter writing campaign to all of the resource agencies. In their letters they are saying how more water will destroy the fishery and the usual nasty stuff about whitewater boaters. We desperately need to let the agencies know that there is another side to the story. Please write a letter today and tell them the following:
* Why the McCloud River is special to whitewater boaters. (25 miles, class III/IV, wilderness, etc).
* Why a natural flow regime with high spring flows makes sense and meets the needs of whitewater recreation and the river.
* You can also speak to the fact that the McCloud River was boatable 365 days a year before the dam was built. Bringing back a few days a year is not too much to ask.
* If you like to fish you can also speak to this balance from an angling perspective and that the angling groups that they have been hearing from do not represent all anglers.
* Ask for a written response.

Please send your letters to:
Ms. Victoria A. Whitney
Deputy Director
Division of Water Rights
California State Water Resources Control
1001 I Street, 14th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814

Tristan Leong
Environmental Scientist
State Water Resource Control Board
1001 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
J. Sharon Heywood
Forest Supervisor
Shasta-Trinity National Forest
3644 Avtech Parkway
Redding, CA 96002
Mr. Gary Stacy
Regional Manager
Northern District
California Department of Fish and Game
Redding, California 96001
See below: the American Whitewater letter and a letter from AW ambassador Sage Donnelly. Please encourage others to write letters as well. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Dave Steindorf, California Stewardship Director, American Whitewater
4 Baroni Drive, Chico, CA 95928
Office 530.343.1871 Cell 530.518.2729

BR Thomas letter in support of McCloud River restoration:

Sent via separate emails to: Ms. Victoria A. Whitney, Tristan Leong, J. Sharon Heywood, & Mr. Gary Stacy.

McCloud River - I support restoration of natural water flows.

I support restoration of natural water flows in the McCloud River. A flow schedule that mimics the natural hydrograph by having high flows in the spring will be good for the environment, good for the wildlife and good for whitewater paddleboating recreation. Healthy ecosystems, fishing opportunities and whitewater paddleboating opportunities can all coexist under natural river flow regimes. Paddleboating is one of the best ways for people to enjoy this beautiful river canyon. It seems only fair that paddleboaters should be able to enjoy the river for a few weeks every year, while the lower flows that the fishermen prefer are still available for many months per year.

I would appreciate a reply with your thoughts on these issues.

American Whitewater letter in support of McCloud River restoration:

November 16, 2009

J. Sharon Heywood
Shasta-Trinity National Forest
3644 Avtech Parkway
Redding, CA 96002

Re: McCloud/ Pit Relicensing

Dear Supervisor Heywood,

American Whitewater is a national river advocacy organization dedicated to the preservation protection and enhancement of America's Whitewater Rivers. American Whitewater has also been extensively involved with the relicensing of FERC hydroelectric projects across the country. In California, American Whitewater has participated in over twenty relicensing and signed six settlement agreements. We fully understand the challenging task that faces resources agencies, such as the Forest Service, in working to bring an appropriate balancing between the various uses of these river systems including, power generation, recreation and ecosystem needs.

Natural river systems do an amazing job at providing for a variety of needs. Healthy ecosystems, angling opportunities and whitewater boating opportunities all coexist under natural flow regimes. The Cal Salmon, Rogue River and Upper Sacramento River, are all classic examples of how well all of these interests can be met on one river.
Hydropower generation and the water that it extracts from river systems certainly put additional strains on the other uses of the river. The McCloud River has ninety percent of its water removed for hydropower. What is more important is that natural flow patterns have been replaced with a flat line flow below the dam that is only interrupted for relatively short periods when the dam spills during wet years. While this flow pattern works well for the needs of power production it has not worked well to meet the other ecosystem needs of the river or provide whitewater recreation opportunity.

We understand that this current flow regime has also provided the maximum number of days for wading based angling and some anglers are upset at the prospect of having this change. While we agree that wading based angling is a very important use of the McCloud River it is by no means the only interest that should be considered in the balancing that must be done as part of this relicensing. For American Whitewater’s part we have acknowledged this angling use by not advocating for flow releases specifically for whitewater recreation. It has been our view from the beginning of this relicensing process that a flow schedule that mimicked natural flow patterns would bring ecosystem improvements as well as provide for whitewater recreation.
We believe that the flow proposal crafted by Forest Service Staff and the other resource agencies meets all of these needs. This flow schedule, which has high flows in the spring that gradually taper off, is similar to other flow schedules that have been adopted on FERC projects on other rivers including the North Fork Feather and the San Joaquin.

The McCloud River is a truly amazing resource that deserves protection. The river journey from McCloud Dam to Lake Shasta is one of the most beautiful river trips in California. We hope that you will support your staff in insuring that all forms of recreationist will have access to this fabulous resource.

Dave Steindorf
California Stewardship Director
American Whitewater

Sage Donnelly letter in support of McCloud River restoration:

November 16, 2009

J. Sharon Heywood
Shasta-Trinity National Forest
3644 Avtech Parkway
Redding, CA 96002

McCloud River

Dear Supervisor Heywood,

My name is Sage Donnelly and I am nine years old. I have been whitewater kayaking since my Dad put me in a tandem kayak with him when I was two. Kayaking with my Mom and Dad is my favorite things to do.

I am hoping to boat the McCloud River some day. It sounds like just the kind of river that I would like, very beautiful and not too difficult. Because it is a long trip, 25 miles, I think it would be a great over night river trip.
I understand that some fishermen are not happy with having whitewater boaters on the McCloud River. I think it is unfair of them to expect to have the McCloud River, or any river, all to themselves. I think they need to learn how to share.

I think the people that you work with understand that the McCloud is an important river and should be shared. I think they are also trying to do what is best for the fish, frogs and other river creatures. I think that having flows that are more natural will help them and make it so I can kayak with my family.

Sage Donnelly
Carson City, Nevada

More about McCloud River & California River Conservation issues:
River Conservation & Water Supply Policy Issues in California - BRT Insights.
• McCloud River has been protected in the California State Wild and Scenic Rivers Program.
McCloud River wild & scenic whitewater paddleboating guide - BRT Insights.
McCloud River Upper Run trip report, BRT Insights July 28, 2007.
McCloud River Recreation & Conservation Directory. (Sort alphabetically. 1&2=paddleboating, 3=conservation, 4=fishing, 5=camping-hiking, 6=local-info)

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The Forest service is proposing restoring the McCloud to mimic more
natural flow cycles. This means more boating for us!! Our fellow river enthusiasts, fishermen, are fighting this tooth and nail. They claim it will destroy the fishery. (Neil, feel free to pipe in here). What they really mean is that it will make it harder for them to fish.

I was fortunate to run the lower McCloud from below the dam (Ash Camp) to Shasta Reservoir earlier this spring. See my trip report in the CFS archives and on the American Whitewater site for this run. It really was a nice little run, but a little low at 800 cfs into the reservoir (maybe 350 at put-in). This would be real fun at 6-800 at the put-in I imagine, bordering on some Class V rapids.

As a fisheries biologist, I cannot see where trying to mimic the natural flow regime would hurt the fishery. As Harry points out, it hurts the fishing by making it harder to fish. Plus, they are probably concerned about the hordes of boaters that would be coming down "their" river. They are blessed by having maybe half a dozen trips come down each year to interrupt their fishing. Actually, we didn't see many fisher folk as it was early in the year.

Please join AW in supporting improved flows in the McCloud.

I am sure you'd also support restoring more natural flows on the North Fork Feather, ya know, to mimic the natural hydrograph. Recreational pulse flows aren't natural... should probably get rid of them where they exist.
The North Fork Feather River is entirely different from the McCloud River. NF Feather has so many dams and diversions that there is nothing much natural there anymore. I see little hope of returning to anything natural in this highly industrialized river. The NF Feather River is owned by all of the people, so if some people benefit via dams and hydroelectric power generation I see nothing wrong with expanding the benefits of the river via recreational pulse flows on a few days each year.
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