Public Comment Period
The deadline for comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) was on January 29th, and over 100 TRT members submitted comments demonstrating strong support for the health of the River and its fish and wildlife.
TRT also joined with nine other conservation and fishing groups to submit 124 pages of detailed comments based on the best available science.
In summary, TRT argued that both the law and science demand that the irrigation districts that own Don Pedro Dam share the River more equitably with fish and wildlife, establish a Groundwater Bank to store excess water for dry years, restore critically important floodplain habitat, and improve other habitat through adding spawning gravel, reducing non-native predator habitat, and adding more logs to the river banks, which is vital for growing baby steelhead and salmon.
Thank you to everyone who submitted a comment to FERC regarding these issues, however this still isn’t the end of the road. FERC will now begin the formal environmental review process required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the State will weigh in when it issues its Water Quality Certification for the license, which will be based on an updated Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan. There will be additional opportunities to voice your support, and we hope you will again join us in that effort.
Stay tuned for more news and updates!
How This Process Can Positively Impact the River
- FERC relicensing can require restoration of fish and wildlife habitat and improved instream flows.
- If you’re a whitewater boater, it can require a safe takeout at Ward’s Ferry, which is currently dangerous and unsafe to recreationists.
- It can have negative impacts on the river, if we don’t act now.
Flows affect most river conditions that have an impact on salmon, steelhead and other species. The Irrigation Districts are proposing mostly non-flow measures such as removing predators, cleaning and adding small amounts of gravel, building another small dam on the river, and building a fish hatchery) aimed at compensating for the lack of flows, but these measures will not recover the fish population.
A better plan is to increase river flows and complete real habitat restoration projects such as restoring floodplain habitat and decreasing non-native predator habitat. Adequate flows are key to our success!
For whitewater boaters, Ward’s Ferry is a notoriously dangerous takeout and a threat to public safety. Recreationists currently risk getting injured when using this haphazard area and more would recreate on the Wild & Scenic Tuolumne if there was an adequate takeout. FERC should require a takeout facility at Ward’s Ferry bridge.