Our community has a lot to say about the Yuba River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study! In recent weeks, over 60 members of the public provided written comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and provided us copies. SYRCL prepared and submitted a letter on behalf of twelve conservation and fishing organizations that came together with a single voice to suggest to the Army Corps and the Yuba County Water Agency methods to conduct the Feasibility Study so as to achieve meaningful actions to benefit the Yuba River.
The remarkably diverse coalition of conservation and fishing groups included the Gold Country Fly Fishers, Trout Unlimited, California Trout, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Sierra Club, Golden Gate Salmon Association, Federation of Fly Fishers, Center for Biological Diversity, Water Keeper Alliance and Friends of the River.
The letter can be summarized in four main points:
- Focus on restoration and recovery of wild salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon populations to achieve broader ecosystem benefits;
- Primarily focus on solutions for the Army Corps’ dams, including options for removal of Daguerre Point Dam and credible volitional fish passage alternatives at Englebright;
- Develop alternatives for habitat restoration on the Lower Yuba River that include expanding floodplains, increasing availability of large wood, restoring riparian forests, and creating more side-channel habitat; and
- Utilize all available information and local experts, including restoration practitioners and academics, to ensure the acceptability of study results.
Many of the 50 letters from members of the public made similar points with personal and compelling messages. SYRCL also provided a letter with extensive technical information to help the Army Corps have a complete scope. SYRCL will continue attempts to engage in the Feasibility Study process, but the next formal opportunity for comments may not come until the Army Corps prepares of Draft Environmental Impact Statement as early as December 2016.
The Army Corps owns and operates Daguerre Point Dam and Englebright Dam which blocks salmon and steelhead from their historic habitat in the upper Yuba River. For years, SYRCL and our partners have advocated for the Corps to develop a plan to restore fish passage over these dams, including over 1,500 postcards to Congressman Garamendi and Senator Feinstein collected at the 2014 Wild and Scenic Film Festival. The Feasibility Study is the formal process by which the Army Corps evaluates any new federal projects. For more information see, What Costs $3 Million, is 3 Inches Thick, and Takes 3 Years to Complete?
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