Feather, N. Fork 0.5) - Lake Almanor to Belden Forebay


Feather, N. Fork 0.5), California, US

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Lake Almanor to Belden Forebay (Seneca)

Usual Difficulty V (for normal flows)

Seneca Reach NF Feather 2


Seneca Reach NF Feather 2
Photo of View from Seneca Bridge by Dave Steindorf taken 07/04/00 @ a good level



River Description

Boatable flows are seldom released from Lake Almanor.  There was a boating flow study in 2000.

Seneca Road follows much of the reach and crosses the river as well.  Boaters may be able to utilize this reach in the roadside sections more frequently than the gauge below the dam indicates.

Dave Steindorf writes:
"The Seneca reach of the North Fork Feather River is rarely run by whitewater boaters. This is not because of the quality of the run, but rather the fact this reach rarely has enough water in it to make it boatable. This section of the North Fork Feather clearly has the signs of a river that has been devoid of high flow events. This is because Lake Almanor, and Canyon Dam which creates the Lake, never spills. Now, never might seems like an overstatement but in this case it is not. Somehow the division of Dam Safety allows the PG&E to operate the dam with a spillway elevation that is higher than the elevation of the town of Chester. Even in 1997, the biggest flood in recent memory, which not only cause most reservoirs in California to spill, it turned most of them into essentially wide spots in the river. Not this dam, PG&E did increase flows to about 2000 cfs, but that was it. Unfortunately that was not enough to remove the vegetation that had grown up in the channel.

During the FERC relicensing of this project, American Whitewater was able to negotiate flow studies for this class V reach and the Class 3+ Belden reach. After completing the flow study we got to work negotiating flows with PG&E. Finally, in 2004 we reached agreement with PG&E, resource agencies, Plumas County, and other NGO’s. This agreement includes recreation releases July through October.

Since 2004 the Settlement Agreement has been under review by the State Water Resources Control Board. The main issue in play here is, how to best cool down the water in the North Fork Feather River in order to restore what was once on of the best trout fisheries in California. We expect to se a draft of the SWRCB water quality certification sometime in the fall of 2012. It is our hope that we will see this certification process completed sometime in 2013 and hopefully flows to begin in 2014. In the mean time, American Whitewater will be working with the Forest Service and PG&E to reduce the amount of vegetation in the channel. Currently there are only 2 or three places where vegetation is a significant issue.

Returning flow to the North Fork Feather River has been a goal of American Whitewater for over a decade. Along with the flows already returned to the Rock Creek and Cresta reaches, the addition of the Belden and Seneca reaches with put us well down the river to see our goal realized."

Put in: Highway 89 runs across the top of Almanor dam, but it is unclear if there is any public access to the river at the base of the dam.  There do appear to be some dirt roads leading down on the north side of the river (river right side).

Take out: PG&E does not want boaters to paddle past the Caribou Powerhouse on the reservoir to the road access on the north side.  During the flow study in 2000, boaters were told to take out above the powerhouse and walk on a catwalk above the outflow. PG&E felt that the turbulance and currents from the powehouse outflows were too severe for boaters to safely paddle past. It is unclear if this option will be normally available.


StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2012-09-14 23:00:34

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