PG&E Lands in the Yuba at Key Decision-Point

As a condition of Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s bankruptcy settlement with the People of California in the aftermath of 2003 “blackouts” that resulted from various utilities gaming California’s energy markets, PG&E agreed to dispose of up to 140,000 acres of watershed lands.  The Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council was formed in 2005 to facilitate a 10 year process for maximizing the public benefits of these lands and determine appropriate land owners to ensure benefits accrue in perpetuity.

A Public Information Meeting for the lands in the Bear and Yuba River watersheds is scheduled for Thursday, April 14th, from 3pm to 6pm at the Auburn Parks & Rec District Community Center, 471 Maidu Dr., Auburn, CA 95603.

The Stewardship Council will discuss the “planning units” that include PG&E lands in Bear Valley (Bear River headwaters), Fordyce Lake, Spaulding Reservoir, Lower Drum, the Yuba Narrows, and Chili Bar (in El Dorado County, American River Basin) and is aimed “to update participants on the Stewardship Council’s land conservation process and to solicit input on the future stewardship of these watershed lands.”

This meeting comes just weeks after the Stewardship Council revealed that they are withdrawing parcels from one of the most valued areas, the Bear Valley meadow and downstream forest lands.  Setting aside general assurances from PG&E representatives that the decision is motivated by protecting their hydropower generating flexibility and ensuring timber harvesting to promote forest health, SYRCL is concerned that the move could thwart years of collaborative research and assessment for restoring the degraded river channel and headwaters of the Bear Valley meadow complex.

An additional concern is the rapid rate in which PG&E is logging their Yuba and Bear River watershed lands.  SYRCL and our members have been alarmed for years with each new “timber harvest plan” submitted by PG&E.  Despite requests for the Stewardship Council to intervene in this “cut and run” approach by PG&E to meet both the spirit and letter of their bankruptcy agreement with the State of California, PG&E continues to submit and implement logging plans for these “conservation and stewardship” parcels.

Citizens concerned with the immediate and long-range management of a number of parcels in the Yuba River’s Grouse Ridge recreational area and beyond are encouraged to attend this public forum.  The public information meeting contact is Allison Henderson (916) 441-3123, ext 301 or ahenderson@stewardshipcouncil.org.

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