Academic Tour

Strategic Responses

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The following multi-pronged approach was developed and refined in order to build the case for improved flows across a number of program elements:

Progress through 2004

While it was not possible to undertake or complete this entire "action agenda" over three short years, we are able to demonstrate significant progress in at least the following areas:

Foothills Water Network: The Foothills Water Network was established in 2004 as a regional network of water, environmental, and conservation activists. The FWN serves as a forum for sharing information, airing and resolving differences, and with luck developing a mutually-supported portfolio of aquatic ecosystem restoration objectives for the Yuba-Bear-American Rivers system as a whole. A modest initial grant resulted in the hiring of a part-time coordinator, who is already engaged in bridge-building and outreach efforts throughout the region.

Bear River Workgroup: In 2004 the Bear River Workgroup secured a three-year, $306,000 grant to hire a Bear River Workgroup coordinator. The coordinator's job description envisions pursuit of a 4-point program that includes specific efforts to "enhance and restore habitat, flows, and temperatures to increase anadramous and trout fisheries to sustainable levels in the Bear River and other regional streams." (The Bear River Workgroup differs from the FWN in that it includes both stakeholder and agency representatives whose goals will sometimes vary from those of FWN participants.)

Lower Bear River Restoration Study: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) for studies to evaluate baseline conditions as well as fishery restoration needs and opportunities on the lower Bear River below New Camp Far West Reservoir. Issuance of the RFP depends on the provision of federal funds through the USFWS's Anadromous Fish Restoration Program in 2005-06.

Lower Bear River Levee Setback: The past three years have seen substantial progress towards approval and funding of a $40+ million levee setback project in the Bear/Feather confluence region. As part of its Proposition 13 Yuba/Feather Flood Control Project, the Yuba County Water Agency (YCWA) is now considering, with the support of CDFG, USFWS, and NOAA, a Final Environmental Impact Report (see Feather-Bear Rivers Levee Setback Project, November 2004) for a preferred alternative that would result in the restoration of more than 300 acres of riparian wetlands along the lower Bear River. The design of the setback project will also meet CDF&G and USFWS criteria for an enhanced fishery and wildlife area. (The Reclamation Board has approved the project, conditioned on restrictions on the total number of new houses to be constructed nearby and the provision of matching funds from residential developers.)

Agency Outreach: We engaged representatives of the South Sutter Water District (PDF*, 20 KB) over the potential for water exchanges and flow improvements in the lower Bear River and in Auburn Ravine/Coon Creek as well. We also continued with efforts to build and sustain strong working relationships with key representatives of NID, PCWA, and PG&E, and with the various state and federal agencies who have an interest in Yuba, Bear, and American River conservation efforts. (Among the concepts explored was a near-term series of "pilot" experiments (PDF*, 19 KB) in the middle and lower reaches of the Bear River that would help to improve our collective understanding of the benefits and costs of alternative flow improvement scenarios.)

Sierra Nevada Conservancy: We played only a minor role in the successful campaign by others to establish a state-chartered Sierra Nevada Conservancy in 2004. We did, however, help to ensure that its mission and authority included actions that would both protect and improve water quality.

Upper Yuba River Studies Program: We have continued to press for timely completion as well as open and transparent calibration and verification of the UYRSP-sponsored water and hydropower simulation model of the Yuba-Bear-American Rivers system. We also initiated efforts to ensure that, on completion, the model will be housed at an appropriate public agency for ongoing public use and access.

Problemshed Maps and CD Compilation: We helped to complete an initial inventory of applicable GIS resources (PDF*, 27 KB)as well as a series of GIS-based maps that document regional water infrastructure, inter-basin water mixing, and the like. Contact us at to obtain these maps.

Continue your tour to see recommendations addressing Bear River flow issues …

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