Category Archives: Rafting

New $22M Highway 49 bridge good for rafts as well as cars

Caltrans marked the start of construction on a new bridge on Highway 49 at Coloma on Thursday.

A groundbreaking ceremony signaled a start on a $22 million project designed to bring the crossing over the south fork of the American River up to current seismic standards while providing safer access for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

The new bridge in the Lotus-Coloma area will replace the existing 62-year-old structure. Previous Caltrans reports had pegged the age of the bridge at 66.

The project will include seismic upgrades, 8-foot shoulders and new sidewalks on both sides of the bridge. The project also includes new curbs, gutters, sidewalks and retaining walls.

“This project aligns with Caltrans’ goals to provide a safe transportation system that also improves mobility,” Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said. “Now that the piers of the new bridge are on land versus being in the water, this new bridge will not only allow for safer travel by pedestrians and bicyclists, but it will also make it easier for rafters in the river below.”

More at AuburnJournal.com >>>

Volunteers come together to tackle canyon cleanup

A hardy group of volunteers gathered at the American River confluence bright and early on Saturday morning with the goal of helping to spruce up the canyon and river areas.

   Earth Day, which began in 1970, is now celebrated in more than 190 countries worldwide. It has been celebrated for 19 years in Auburn, with many like-minded individuals coming together on this day to be involved in recognizing Earth Day 2017.

   Organized locally by Protect American River Canyons (PARC), Auburn State Recreation Area and Canyon Keepers, there were numerous tasks for the volunteers to tackle. Volunteers eagerly showed up with gloves and were loaned trash pickers, pruning shears and large plastic bags.

   After a safety talk by Auburn State Recreation Area Supervising Ranger Scott Liske, trash pickup was targeted on the Quarry Trail, No Hands Bridge Trail, Lake Clementine Trail, the Confluence Trail, Stagecoach Trail and along Foresthill Road near Mammoth Bar.

More at AuburnJournal.com >>>

Three county supervisors appointed to Lower American River Parkway Conservancy

Sacramento County supervisors appointed three of their own to the advisory committee for the Lower American River Conservancy Program on Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to appoint supervisors Phil Serna, Susan Peters and Don Nottoli to the committee, with the goal of protecting the parkway, often called the “jewel of Sacramento,” and promoting recreational opportunities.

The American River Parkway is an urban greenbelt that provides flood control and wildlife habitat and protects water quality, along with biking and walking trails.

“Overall the American River Parkway is one of the best amenities in the region,” said Dianna Poggetto, executive director of the American River Parkway Foundation. “It’s considered a blueprint for all the greenbelts in the United States.”

The parkway attracts 8 million visitors annually, Poggetto said.

The Lower American River Conservancy Program was established in a bill authored by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year.

More at SacBee.com >>>

Thanks to abundant snow, the West can expect a long, rollicking river rafting season

Chris Moore watched in awe this winter as the snow piled up on his multiple trips to Bear Valley Mountain Resort in the central Sierra.

“I’ve never seen a winter quite like this,” said Moore, California regional manager for O.A.R.S. rafting company.

“What all this snow means is it’s going to be a long and exciting whitewater season, so I’m stoked.

“We’re going to have big flows in the late spring and early summer and a more drawn-out whitewater season on rivers here in California.”

Moore’s enthusiasm is widespread among rafting outfitters up and down the state, some of whom are still recovering from the drought, which just two years ago saw April 1 snowpack measurements of 5% of normal throughout much of the Sierra.

This year, however, the snowpack is 140% of normal for the Northern Sierra and 169% of normal for the Central Sierra, according to the California Data Exchange Center.

Here’s how the season is shaping up.

The Middle, North and South forks of the American River, as well as the North Fork of the Stanislaus River will have high flows in May and June, moderating as the summer progresses.

“The South Fork of the American, which is normally a fun Class III river that’s great for even young kids, is not going to be the kind of stream you’d want to take your 6-year-old on around the start of the season” Moore said. “But it will mellow out, too, as the season unfolds.”

Because the water on the South Fork will be roaring early, O.A.R.S. will offer its one-day, “21-Miler” trips seven days a week from April through June.

These wild rides combine the upper Chili Bar section with the lower Gorge section. At lower flows, covering all 21 miles of the South Fork would make for a long day, but not this spring and early summer.

More at LATimes.com >>>

Snow survey reveals CA water content at 185% of average

The Sierra snowpack survey conducted Wednesday revealed that the northern Sierra water content is well above average for this time of the year and bodes well for runoff later in the year.

Numbers manually taken by water officials at the Phillips Station in El Dorado County revealed 43.4 inches of water content, which is 179 percent of the long-term average for March 1, and a snow-depth of 112.7 inches.

The water content did not break the record of 56.4 inches for that station, but Frank Gehrke, of the California Department of Water Resources, said it is “a pretty phenomenal snowpack.”

“It bodes very well for runoff much longer than we have had in the past four or five years,” Gehrke said. “It’s a very, very good indicator of good surface water supplies as we head into spring and summer.

As of March 1:

  • The northern Sierra is 159 percent of average.
  • The central Sierra is 190 percent of average.
  • The southern Sierra is 201 percent of average.

The central and southern regions are tracking “very close” to 1983, which is when the maximum snowpack was recorded statewide.

More at KCRA.com >>>

Heavy snowpack looks good for Folsom Lake

A whopping Sierra snowpack now could mean great boating and water skiing on Folsom Lake this summer.

The state’s official snow survey last week showed the Sierra snowpack is at 173 percent of its early February average.

That means, come summer, steady snowmelt should keep Folsom at relatively high levels.

So tune up the outboard motor and break out the water skis: It’s likely to be a very watery summer.

“We should see strong runoff into Folsom through the summer months,” said Louis Moore, deputy public information officer for the Bureau of Reclamation in Sacramento. “Typically, August is the month with the highest levels at Folsom.”

Recently, the lake held 407,000 acre feet; the maximum capacity is 977,000 acre feet. Dam operators are making sure there is plenty of space for incoming rain and snow runoff from the current storm systems.

More at FolsomTelegraph.com >>>

Folsom, Granite Bay among those called out for dramatic increase in water use

Californians are continuing to use more water, state drought regulators said Tuesday, with residents of Folsom and Granite Bay among those who’ve ramped up their consumption the most.

The State Water Resources Control Board announced that urban consumption grew by 8 percent in September compared with a year ago. It was the fourth straight month of higher consumption now that strict conservation mandates have been relaxed. Water districts used about 170 billion gallons of water, an increase of 13 billion gallons compared with September 2015, the agency said.

In its announcement, the state board pointed to six urban agencies that experienced “sharp reductions in conservation,” including two in Greater Sacramento – the city of Folsom and the San Juan Water District. Folsom’s usage rose 25 percent in September compared with a year ago. Consumption in the San Juan district, which includes Granite Bay, grew by 29 percent. By contrast, consumption in the city of Sacramento grew by 8 percent, matching the statewide average.

Californians managed to conserve 18.3 percent in September compared with 2013, the baseline established by state officials. But a year ago, when statewide conservation regulations were in place, the savings rate was a more robust 26.2 percent.

“Overall, we’re happy to see millions of Californians and many water agencies continue significant conservation,” said board Chairwoman Felicia Marcus in a prepared statement. “Conversely, we’re concerned to see some agencies return to using hundreds of gallons per person per day while saving little. … We need to keep conserving.”

More at SacBee.com >>>

Sacramento water agencies work together, adapting to drought

Dr. Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, is the godfather of research on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. When he says it took John Sutter eight days to wind his way from San Francisco Bay through the Delta to find the narrow Sacramento River in 1839, you can bet that’s the truth. Not until 1913 was the mouth of the river dredged to make it a mile wide. Grizzly bears roamed the wildness, feasting on an abundance of native fish, until they were hunted to local extinction. Today in the Delta, the largest estuary on the west coast of North America, only remnants remain of the natural landscape before it was irreversibly altered at the hands of people.

The Delta is a system of canals. In places, you can stand on a man-made levee with high water on one side and sunken land on the other. For 7,000 years, sediment accumulated to form deposits of organically-rich peat soil, but the last 170 years of farming have undone this natural process. About 2,300 dump trucks worth of soil is lost per day, oxidized as carbon dioxide and all told, about half of the Delta’s soil material is now gone, says Curt Schmutte, a civil engineer who specializes in Delta issues. We named plots of land in the Delta “islands,” but scientists refer to them — the majority below sea level — as “holes.”

I’m with a tour group on a hot September afternoon, and we hold onto our hats and brace ourselves as the boat tears through the water at 40 miles per hour, past invasive water hyacinth, tules, fishermen, houseboats, farmland and cattle. The Delta accumulates water from California’s largest watershed and acts as the hub of the state’s water supply system, linking water from the north to the two biggest water projects, which play a major role in sustaining the world’s sixth largest economy and much of its industry, agriculture and 39 million people.

But the Delta exists under unrelenting pressure: from land-use change, population growth, nutrient pollution from wastewater treatment plants, earthquakes, agriculture, sea-level rise and more. Even with money, there’s no silver bullet to fix this ecosystem — but there are plenty of battling sides. “It’s like a game of chicken,” Lund says. “How do you break a game of chicken?”

Was it Mark Twain who proclaimed, “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over”? When it comes to this natural resource, our state is rife with conflict. And, perhaps, in the Sacramento region, open to resolution. While the state is all-consumed with water wars, the region’s efforts toward collaboration are easy to overlook. The best example is the landmark Water Forum Agreement, which 22 water agencies from Sacramento, El Dorado and Placer counties signed in 2000 to balance the environmental and human needs of the lower American River.

Now, water agencies have joined together again to launch the River Arc Project. Proponents say the project has the potential for a groundbreaking impact. It would help recharge groundwater through a management practice called “conjunctive use.” It would also allow for ongoing growth by creating an additional source of water to lessen demand on the lower American River and Folsom Lake, which already provide drinking water to 1 million residents, says Andy Fecko, director of resource development at Placer County Water Agency. “What’s unique about our region is we’re doing this before we have a crisis.”

More at ComstockMag.com >>>

12 tons of trash pulled in Great Sierra River Cleanup

More than one thousand volunteers in the Sierra Nevada Region helped pull 12 tons of trash from rivers, lakes, and streams on Saturday.

The event was all a part of the 8th annual Great Sierra River Cleanup.

Estefan Galvan, 25, is a diver with seven years experience who helped cleanup Saturday.

“Diving is a whole different world. It’s an entirely different world,” Galvan said. “When you get under water it’s a completely different feel, your away from everything at the surface.”

Galvan joined a crew of a dozen divers in Folsom, California who pulled several items from the American River.

“Our main focus is going to be under the cliff diving spots and under the bridges where people tend to be looking over the edges or jumping off or throwing things over,” Galvan said.

The group pulled a bicycle, fishing rod, cans, glass, anchors and more from the American River.

More at ABC10.com >>>

Old pipe removal requires less American River flow

Flows on the American River will be lower and rafting will be excluded one morning later this month to allow for removal of an old water pipe.

The Carmichael Water District on Sept. 13 will take away concrete debris from the south side of the river and remove an existing 33-inch steel water pipeline crossing the river just upstream from Ancil Hoffman Park.

Flows are scheduled to be reduced from 1,500 cubic feet per second to 1,000 cubic feet per second starting in the morning and continuing through 2 p.m. Sept. 13. The old pipeline is in the river but is partially exposed.

“This removal of the old pipeline is one the things we are most excited about – to restore the river to its original condition,” said Chris Nelson, Carmichael Water District spokesman.

Also beginning at dawn and continuing until about 1 p.m., watercraft launching in the water will be prohibited beginning at Rossmoor Bar and at other upstream access points, including at Sunrise Boulevard. The watercraft prohibition between those points is needed for safety reasons due to heavy equipment being used that day to remove the pipeline.

More at SacBee.com >>>