Full rivers promise great year for rafting

The rivers are rushing, and the snow pack is high, which means it’s going to be a great year for white water enthusiasts.

It already is.

“This is the best year we’ve seen in a long time,” said Deric Rothe, owner of Sierra Whitewater Rafting in Auburn.

Rafting tours are already filling up, he said, with big trips planned for this weekend and next.

People come from all over the world to experience the wonder of water in our little neck of the foothills.

His company took about 2,500 people on rafting tours last year, and that was during a drought.

More at AuburnJournal.com >>>

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New American River bridge near Auburn gains traction

A new pedestrian bridge across the American River is still a big, bright bold idea.

And nearly 15 years after initial funding of $500,000 was pledged, the idea of spanning the river belowAuburn is gaining some renewed momentum.

Auburn’s environmental group Protect American River Canyons (PARC) is taking a lead.

A letter-writing campaign to State Parks officials has generated hundreds of pleas for consideration of a bridge and improved public access to the China Bar area.

Located off Auburn’s Maidu Drive, the China Bar area is in the Auburn State Recreation Area on land owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and operated by State Parks.

It’s part of the site of the long-delayed Auburn dam and was once a river crossing, when the stretch of the waterway was underground, flowing through a diversion tunnel built during construction in the 1960s.

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Rescue crews recover teen’s body from American River

Rescue crews have recovered the body of a teenage boy who went underwater in the American River around Auburn.

The Sacramento Bee reports (http://bit.ly/1VdPJPb) that the body was recovered shortly after 10:15 a.m. Sunday. Supervising Ranger Scott Liske says the boy was found about 100 yards downstream from where he went in on Saturday.

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Levee ‘armoring’ along the American River Parkway draws concerns

Years of rumbling dump trucks and backhoes placing 2.75 million tons of rock “armor” along nearly a dozen miles of riverbank is an unpleasant thought for many who bike, jog, fish, bird-watch, golf, boat and swim along the lower American River Parkway.

But to demonstrate why officials currently are planning for some version of that scenario, Rick Johnson, the executive director of the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, points to a striking aerial photo taken after one of the worst deluges ever recorded in this region.

The photo was snapped in February 1986 after an extraordinary Pineapple Express storm filled reservoirs and rivers and pushed Sacramento’s flood infrastructure to its limits. The image shows an area near where the Capital City Freeway crosses the American River; it looks as if several giant bites had been taken out of the massive levee there.

Just on the other side of the levee sits the River Park neighborhood. If the rushing river – which at one point was surging with more than a million gallons per second – had eaten away just a few more feet of the barrier, Sacramento would have been awash in floodwater that would have rivaled what swamped New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. Tens of thousands of homes could have been flooded.

But it wasn’t until the American River receded that anyone knew how close the city had come to disaster.

“The scary part is you couldn’t see (the damage to the levee). It was all underwater,” Johnson said. “We didn’t even know that was happening until after the water came down. They should have evacuated, quite frankly.”

Prompted by recent changes in state and federal flood control policy – largely in reaction to Katrina – local officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are in the initial phases of planning a $375 million project that would add a layer of rocky erosion protection along up to 11 miles of the lower American River.

The levees under consideration stretch along segments of the American River, starting where it meets the Sacramento River near downtown and ending upstream near the Butterfield neighborhood, which is about 4 miles east of the Watt Avenue bridge.

The project has presented flood control officials with a major challenge: How do they balance the need to armor the levees against erosion while at the same time protecting – or restoring after construction – the stream-side riparian habitat, as well as the trails and river access that make the lower American River Parkway a local treasure?

More at SacBee.com >>>

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Placer Land Trust Makes Largest Funded Land Donation in Northern California to California State Parks

Placer Land Trust announced today a large public land donation and the largest endowment donation ever donated in Northern California to the California State Parks, ensuring the popular area for recreational use.

Placer Land Trust donated 417 acres of permanently protected land for public recreational use along the North Fork of the American River.

Each year, about 1 million visitors enjoy the American River’s 100-plus miles of trails, world-class river recreation and the raw natural beauty of the river canyons within the Auburn State Recreation Area.

The land – about the size of the Disneyland Resort in Southern California — is a popular spot for rafting, swimming, fishing and hiking among other outdoor recreational activities. The property is called the “Big Bend North Fork Preserve” due to its location across from Sore Finger Point at Big Bend.

“The American River continues to be an area of special interest for Placer Land Trust due to its unique value to our region,” said Placer Land Trust Executive Director Jeff Darlington. “We’re pleased to protect another stretch of the river through ongoing community support and statewide partnerships.”

The land was acquired through a partnership between The Trust for Public Land and the locally based Placer Land Trust in 2014, and has been managed by Placer Land Trust until California State Parks could accept ownership and management responsibilities as part of the Auburn State Recreation Area. The protection of the land permanently prohibits any residential development into the river canyon, while at the same time protecting the public’s access to the river along Ponderosa Way. In addition to the property’s value as recreational land, it provides beautiful scenery, wildlife habitat and water quality benefits to the public.

More at YubaNet.com >>>

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Rising rivers creating headaches for cyclists and boaters

Cyclists are finding it difficult to navigate the American River Bike Trail thanks to road blocks created by mother nature and flooding from rising rivers.

“I see the sign that says detour, but we didn’t know it was going to be like this,” said cyclist Pros Hang.

The section of trail that travels along Northgate Boulevard and underneath Highway 160 remains flooded in two areas, and the flooding continues through most of Discovery Park.

The flooding has left those who commute back and forth to work on two wheels choosing to either brave the standing water or find a different way home.

“One cyclist told me, ‘don’t go that way you are not going to make it through there,'” said cyclist Michael Goldstein. “They better take a different route if they are coming through Discovery Park, because I don’t think so.”

While cyclists try to navigate the trails, boaters will find it dangerous navigating the waterways. Along the Sacramento and American Rivers debris of trees and logs continue to flow with the swift moving currents.

More at News10.net >>>

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Forest Service Invests $5.1 million in South Fork American River Watershed

The Eldorado National Forest has received $5.1 million in special supplemental funding this year to support efforts to reduce the threat of wildfire and the risk of insect and disease in the South Fork American River Watershed (SOFAR). “The values to be protected in this watershed are critical to the local and regional economy and to ecosystem health,” said Forest Supervisor Laurence Crabtree. “Most importantly, this is where we have the largest number of people living near the forest, the most recreational use, and a recurring pattern of difficult to control wildfires.”

The 2016 supplemental funding will be used to accomplish work on five major multi-year, multi-phase projects.

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Sacramento County officials: American River is running fast so use caution

The American River is running higher than it has in years from Folsom to Sacramento, resulting in closed access points and encroachment on beaches.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation increased water releases from Folsom Dam to 15,000 cubic feet per second this week to make room for rain expected to begin on Thursday and continue through the weekend.

The increase flow from Folsom Lake has produced a faster-running river and led to cautions from Sacramento County officials. Sacramento County Regional Parks officials are discouraging boating, rafting and swimming in the American River.

Access points at Howe and Watt avenues on the American River Parkway are closed to vehicle traffic. A detour near Sailor Bar, mile 21.5 on the bike trail, is in place for bicyclists and pedestrians. Boat launches at Upper Sunrise and Sailor Bar are closed due to the increased flow.

At the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers in downtown Sacramento, Discovery Park beaches – where a week ago anglers tried their luck from shore – were inundated on Wednesday. Along the bank, cautionary signs warned “HIGH FLOWS: Raft, swim, or boat at your own risk.”

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Police Urge Caution Near American River As Folsom Dam Releases Increase

Police are urging people near the American River in the Cal Expo area to seek higher ground.

A Sacramento Police helicopter could be heard flying over the area Monday, broadcasting a recorded precautionary message urging people near the river to move to higher ground.

The recent storm has prompted the Bureau of Water Reclamation to increase the rate of water being released from Folsom Lake. A powerful storm brought heavy amounts of rain and snow to the foothills and Sierra, which sharply increased water levels.

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‘Above average’ rain to trigger more water releases from Folsom Dam

“It looks like the storm door is opening,” California Department of Water Resources Chief Hydrologist Maury Roos said.

The storms are expected to help increase California’s water supply.

“If the forecasts are right, we’ll get above average precipitation for the month of March,” Roos explained.

That’s good news, especially for the Sierra where yesterday’s survey in Phillips, California revealed snowpack levels are at just 85 percent of average for this time of year.

“Obviously, El Niño is not living up to expectations,” Water Resources Snow Survey Chief Frank Gehrke said.

But the prospect of more snow in the Sierra could mean more snowmelt into the American River, leading to higher water levels at Folsom Lake. That’s why the Federal Bureau of Reclamation is looking to make adjustments for the release of water from Folsom Dam.

“Based on this being a widespread storm, we do expect some increased runoff,” the Bureau’s spokesperson Louis Moore said.

The Bureau is anticipating additional releases from Folsom Dam in the days ahead.

More at KCRA.com >>>

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