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Wild & Scenic

The designation is really a tool used by enviros to limit the construction of more storage.

Mar 20, 2018

Everything is done for a reason.  You might think designating a river 'wild and scenic' is just so they can put up a sign on the side of the road for tourists.  But, the designation is really a tool used by enviros to limit the construction of more storage.  Don't be fooled by the 'feel good' name.

The Merced Irrigation District proposed raising the spillway on the Exchequer Dam 10 feet to increase storage in Lake McClure for an additional 70,000 acre-feet.  But, "Michael Martin, director of the Merced River Conservation Committee based in Mariposa, said the move would encroach on the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system."  The Merced River is 122-miles from Yosemite to the dam and this would only impact 1800 feet, or 1/350th of the river.  The enviros will not even make this small of a compromise for storage.

Now, the Wild & Scenic designation is being used against the raising of Shasta Dam.  David Little writes in the Chico Enterprise-Record that "the McCloud River is protected by law, and raising the dam would inundate about three miles of it."

The Sierra Club is supporting the latest "Wild & Scenic" proposal for the Mokelumne River.  "Recently the State Natural Resources Agency released the draft Mokelumne River Wild and Scenic Study Report, which recommends adding 37 miles of the Mokelumne above EBMUD’s Pardee Reservoir to the California Wild and Scenic River System."  

Realize that this might sound like a nice, feel-good thing to do, but there's probably a lot more going on here than meets the eye.  

State study recommends Wild and Scenic protections for Mokelumne River

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