A popular bike and walkway on a stretch of the American River Parkway Recreation Trail is still shut down more than a year after a rockslide blocked it.
Heavy rains in 2016 and early 2017 made the already unstable cliffside on the north side of Lake Natoma worse. Then in January and February of 2017, large rocks and debris came crashing down.
“If you take a look at the hillside, there’s still a lot of very large fractures with large chunks of rocks that can still come down,” said Richard Preston, Folsom Sector superintendent of California State Parks, Gold Fields District. “So our plan is to try to scale, using techniques to bring those other rocks down before we clean up and repair the trail.”
Repairs were originally scheduled for Summer 2017. Initially, Caltrans was asked to assist, but Preston said they didn’t have the the staff, time or geological expertise.
While the recent storms brought an abundance of fresh snow to the sierra, don’t expect Mother Nature’s generosity to instantly raise the level of Folsom Lake and other area reservoirs. On Monday, March 5, officials from the Department of Water Resources revealed that totals are still well below average.
Monday’s snow survey at Phillips Station reflected a dramatic change from February’s totals. However, the snow water equivalent (SWE) was 9.4 inches, which translates into the simple fact that our snowpack is a mere 39 percent of average for early March.
“California has unquestionably experienced a dry winter this year, with a near-record dry February,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “While we’re happy to kick off March with this healthy storm, the variability of this winter’s weather patterns underscores the importance of continued conservation and the ongoing need to strengthen California’s water supply reliability for our people, our economy, and our environment.”
The snow survey conducted Monday by Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, was the second measurement at Phillips Station for this snow survey period. On Feb. 28, the snow survey found a SWE of 1.7 inches, just 7 percent of average for that time of year as recorded since 1964. Given the forecasted storm, officials conducted a second measurement on March 5 to record its impact, which yielded a 32 percentage-point increase in SWE over the previous week.
The body of Granite Bay resident and renowned rowing instructor John Hooten Jr. has been retrieved from Lake Natoma, where he went missing Monday.
Hooten, 66, was navigating a single rowing shell across Lake Natoma when he suddenly fell overboard about 10:50 a.m. Monday. A friend rowing nearby jumped out of his boat and tried to rescue him as he flailed in the water, but was too late.
Rescue crews from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, California State Parks, California Highway Patrol, Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services, Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, Drowning Accident Rescue Team (DART) and other public and volunteer organizations searched Nimbus Flat for Hooten’s body in dark, cold, relatively slow-moving water before finding him Tuesday evening.
The Nimbus Basin on the lower American River will permanently close to all fishing as of March 1, 2018, as per fishing regulations amended by the Fish and Game Commission in December 2017.
The closure will take effect from Nimbus Dam on the lower American River to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gauging station cable crossing approximately one-half mile downriver (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 7.50(b)(5)(A) and (B).
Under current regulations, the American River from Nimbus Dam to the Hazel Avenue bridge piers is open to fishing all year (CCR Title 14, section 7.50 (b)(5)(A)), and from the Hazel Avenue bridge piers to the USGS gauging station cable crossing about 300 yards downstream from the Nimbus Hatchery fish weir from Jan. 1 through Aug. 15 (section 7.50(b)(5)(B)).
Closure of the Nimbus Basin to fishing is part of the Nimbus Hatchery Fish Passage Project, which involves reorienting the hatchery’s fish ladder into the Nimbus Basin and removing the existing fish weir. This project will create and maintain a reliable system of collecting adult salmon and steelhead broodstock for the hatchery and increase the amount of natural spawning and rearing habitat available in the lower American River.
The changes will also minimize American River flow fluctuations associated with installation and removal of the hatchery’s weir and eliminate health and safety concerns relative to the deterioration of the existing weir structure. The new spawning habitat opened up by the permanent removal of the weir will improve juvenile salmon production and increase harvest opportunities downstream.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife completed a joint Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIR/EIS) for the Nimbus Hatchery Fish Passage Project in 2011. Planning is currently underway and construction is scheduled to begin in federal fiscal year 2019. The EIR/EIS is available for download fromwww.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/hatchery.
The lower American River continues to be contaminated with potentially harmful levels of bacteria, water regulators said this week, and they are taking steps to pinpoint the sources in an effort to protect the waterway and the public.
Beginning this summer, staffers from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board will launch a yearlong study using sophisticated DNA testing to determine the sources of E. coli bacteria that have been found at levels higher than federal regulators recommend for safe recreational use of waterways. The sources of contamination are unknown, but likely include human waste from homeless camps, sewer overflows, wildlife and domestic dogs, officials said.
The testing will show what percentage of the bacteria is from people versus animals and birds, and whether it contains potentially dangerous pathogens such as giardia, salmonella and Hepatitis A, said Adam Laputz, the board’s assistant executive director. The study is expected to cost $300,000 to $400,000.
Information gathered by the agency will help county health officials determine the level of risk to people who use the river for boating, swimming, kayaking, fishing and other recreational activities, Laputz said. It also will help authorities figure out ways to reduce bacteria levels in the waterway.
Sacramento Regional Parks issued an advisory Friday for mountain lions in the American River Parkway.
They say that it’s a natural habitat for the big cats and that people should not be alarmed because they are typically shy creatures.
While many users of the American River Parkway know that mountain lions are present, a good amount of walkers and joggers were surprised to find out that they are in the area.
The advisory says that if you should run into a mountain lion, do not run away because it may give chase. Instead, make lots of noise, make yourself look bigger and give the mountain lion plenty of space to escape. It’s highly unlikely that humans would be attacked by the predator.
The first big rain of the year is flushing massive amounts of debris from homeless camps down the American River in Sacramento County, and into California waterways.
The storm hit just as the state’s Water Quality Control Board begins to look at the pollution problem along the river. The rising water is pushing more waste into the river in an area that is also home to wildlife.
Lisa Lindberg lives nearby. She keeps a folder of the river waste she sees every day.
“I think its been way too long and not enough has been done,” Lindberg said.
Sacramento County supervisors approved $5 million for new ranger and maintenance positions last year to clean up the mess. A county spokesperson says crews pulled out 6 tons of debris last week, yet tons of trash remains.
The California Water Quality Control District 5 is planning to convene a panel to address the toxic water problems.
“Gold! Gold from the American River!” So cried the carpenter James W. Marshall on January 24, 1848, as the story goes, when he found flakes of the precious metal at Coloma, California, thus ushering into the region a wave of steely-eyed prospectors. As word of the California Gold Rush spread around the world, photographers, too, arrived, and themselves struck metaphorical gold. They set up studios in wagons and captured the historic frenzy around them, making the Gold Rush the first major event in the country to be documented extensively through the then-new medium.
The project will close the Jiboom Street Bridge at Discovery Park, causing hundreds of cyclists who use the bridge daily to change their routine. The bridge will close down on January 2 and re-open on May 31. While the county has suggested other routes, cyclists say they’re not viable options.
There’s no argument from those who regularly use the Jibboom Street Bridge over the American River that it badly needs repairs. This is the only direct legal crossing for people on bikes and walking between Natomas and downtown Sacramento.
Local bicycle advocates estimate during weekday evening commutes an average of 300 cyclists cross the bridge, which was built in 1934. The county suggested two other routes, but many are calling them inadequate.
“The next nearest crossing is the Blue Diamond Bridge, two miles upstream, or the 8th Street and Guy West bridges in the Sac State area — about 7 miles upstream,” said a cycling advocate. For a commuter traveling between downtown and South Natomas, that’s either an additional 4 to 14 miles — one way.
“It underscores the lack of bridges and connectivity as our city grows north of 100,000 people, which is 20 percent of our population now living north of the American River,” said Councilman Steve Hansen.