Posted by: thepinetree on 06/24/2014 02:40 PM
Updated by: thepinetree on 06/24/2014 02:42 PM
Expires: 01/01/2019 12:00 AM
Foothill Conservancy Applauds Wild & Scenic Bill's Committee Passage
Sacramento, CA....On Monday, June 23, the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources passed Senate Bill 1199, which would protect 37 miles of the Mokelumne River with state Wild and Scenic River designation. The final vote was 6-2, with one committee member absent. “We’re really happy to see the bill moving on,” said Cecily Smith, Foothill Conservancy executive director. “Meanwhile, Senator Hancock has pledged to work with the opponents to address their concerns as the bill moves forward.”
SB 1199 is authored by state Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland) and co-sponsored by Friends of the River and the Foothill Conservancy. It would bar new dams on the Mokelumne from Salt Springs Dam to Pardee Reservoir and require state agencies to protect the river's “extraordinary” cultural, historic, scenic, water quality and recreational values in the course of their regular duties.
“State Wild and Scenic designation leaves regulation of private land in the hands of local government,” Smith said. “It applies only to the bed and banks of the river up to the first line of permanent vegetation and our counties will retain all land use authority.
“State protection also doesn't change the way the BLM or Forest Service manage public land, including their work to prevent or fight wildland fires. It just keeps state agencies from approving or permitting new dams on the river or projects that harm the river’s flow or extraordinary values.”
Wild and Scenic designation for the Mokelumne is supported by the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors, local businesses, tourism and economic development groups, three tribes, a long list of conservation and community groups, and thousands of individuals in Amador and Calaveras counties. It is opposed by the Amador County Board of Supervisors, local water agencies, Amador County Business Council, Ione Band of Miwok Indians, San Joaquin County and the East Bay Municipal Utility District.
Hancock has pledged to work with the opponents of the bill on amendments to address their concerns.
Smith remarked, “While it’s clear that wild and scenic designation does not prevent water agencies from getting new water rights upstream of the designated section or on tributary streams, we’re happy to see Sen. Hancock and the opponents working on mutually agreeable language.”
The bill’s next stop is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. That vote is not expected until August since the Legislature starts a one-month recess in early July.
For more information, contact Cecily Smith at 209-223-3508, Cecily@foothillconservancy.org or Katherine Evatt, 209-296-05734, Katherine@mokeriver.com.