Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mokelumne River threatened again

Our local river is under threat once again. In its 2040 water plan, the East Bay Municipal Utility District is including a proposal to expand Pardee Reservoir. This larger version of Pardee would drown the entire Middle Bar reach of the Mokelumne -- and seasonally, nearly a mile of the Electra run above Highway 49.

The East Bay doesn't even need the water. EBMUD's directors chose to head down this path rather than impose stricter conservation standards. So there's less impact on Bay Area residents, but we lose miles of river people use every day, year 'round. The Mokelumne's Electra and Middle Bar reaches are the most accessible and family-friendly river segments in our area.

Everyone needs water. But we need our river, too.

For more information, some photos and video, and to send an e-mail to EBMUD and local officials -- some of whom are encouraging this misguided, destructive plan -- see the Foothill Conservancy's Pardee expansion webpage.

While you're there, sign on to support National Wild and Scenic River designation for the Mokelumne. It's the only way to ensure we have a river in our future.


farmlady said...

Hi Katherine, I have been off-line for a week so I'm trying to catch up on my comments and I'm hoping that you got my return reply on your comment on our trip up Electra Rd. The river is so beautiful and needs to be kept that way.
My husband is not a big fan of the Nature Conservancy because he's a dredger and he also reads RANGE magazine, which fires his anti-everything attitude about land and who controls it. If you could give me some insight on any of this I would appreciate it. I will be reading your blog also and try to stay up on what is going on with our beautiful river.
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Katherine said...

Hi farmlady: Unfortunately, I didn't get your reply. Can you send it again?

My group, Foothill Conservancy, is not the same as the Nature Conservancy and not a part of it. We do work with them very occasionally, but mostly, we work on local issues in Amador and Calaveras counties. We have a special interest in the Mokelumne River and have worked on Mokelumne-related issues for nearly 20 years now.

I know a little about Range, but not a lot. I think if land can stay in private ownership with good stewardship, that's ideal.

But The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has played an important role in preserving land around the country and close to home, including 11,000 acres of the Howard Ranch in Sacramento County. Along with other folks, they put together a funding package to buy that land. Then they put a conservation easement on it to ensure it would stay a ranch forever, and sold it to someone who ranches it today.

That kind of thing is a good deal all-around -- land and habitat are preserved from development, property stays on the local tax roll, and it continues to be ranched.

It's too bad something like that couldn't have been done with the 16,000 acres of the Howard Ranch in our county. Instead, developers bought it -- the same people who are trying to

I'm sure TNC is not all good. They get lots of corporate money, for one thing, which always catches my attention. But in this region, they've done a lot of good work.

Foothill Conservancy's website is a good resource for Mokelumne River news. See www.foothillconservancy.org and for info on the proposed Pardee expansion, www.foothillconservancy.org/pardee.