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Posted: 01/19/2018
By: Theresa Simsiman

American Whitewater is advocating for improved access conditions at Ward’s Ferry Bridge on California’s Tuolumne River, which is the take-out for the Wild and Scenic Meral’s Pool run above the Don Pedro Hydropower Project. Together, with our partners Tuolumne River Trust, Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center and Tuolumne River Outfitters (ARTA, OARS, Sierra Mac), we are using the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s hydropower relicensing process to champion upgrades for a safe, multi-user recreational facility at this site.

Today the take-out at Ward’s Ferry Bridge is plagued by theft, vandalism and covered in graffiti. Operations of the Don Pedro Project cause water levels at Ward’s Ferry Bridge to fluctuate dramatically, and this has affected conditions at this take-out for decades by contributing to shoreline and trail erosion and creating a steep hike to get up to the road. Additionally, despite initially spending over $8 million for recreational facilities around the Don Pedro Project, the owners and operators (Modesto Irrigation District and Turlock Irrigation District) have spent very little to improve conditions at Ward’s Ferry Bridge.

During years of engagement with the Districts, we have repeatedly voiced support for safe vehicle and pedestrian access to the river’s edge, safe parking, security, and a shared day use area for a variety of recreation types. Despite these efforts, the Districts are currently proposing only to construct a platform on river left and relocate the bathroom to river right. The platform would be designed to accommodate boom trucks to lift rafts from the river. While most agree that these proposals would be a welcome addition, they fall well short of measures that address a safe recreational facility for all users. In other words, they make little accommodation for the private boater.


It’s time to put on record that a safe and improved take-out at Ward’s Ferry Bridge for the Meral’s Pool Run on the Wild & Scenic Tuolumne River is important to you, the private boater. Please take the time to send in your comments to the Federal Energy Regularity Commission by Monday, January 29th.

Submit your comment to FERC using the “eComment” system, which takes a couple of steps to complete. Go here - After filling out your name, address, and email, the eComment system will send you an email with a link to submit your comment. Comments through this system must be text-only and under 6,000 characters. The Don Pedro Project’s docket number is P-2299-082, and this must be entered in the relevant field.


Dear Secretary Bose,

I am a private whitewater boater that enjoys the challenges and beauty of paddling on the Wild & Scenic Tuolumne River. I am writing to provide comments regarding the proposed measures for the whitewater boating take-out facilities at Ward’s Ferry Bridge as outlined in the Don Pedro Hydroelectric Project Amendment to the Final License Application (AFLA).

(Fill in your own paddling and take-out experience on this run i.e. number of times a year you run the river, watercraft type, any difficulties at take-out)

The proposed measures to construct a booming platform on river left and a bathroom on river right would be welcomed additions at Ward’s Ferry Bridge. However, the booming platform alone provides little benefit to private boaters whom neither own or have access to booming equipment or operations. As mitigation for the operation of the Don Pedro Project, Modesto Irrigation District and Turlock Irrigation District should provide for a safe recreational facility at Ward’s Ferry Bridge that will accommodate all user groups. At a minimum, the Districts should provide recreational facilities that meet these objectives:

  • Providing all water-level motorized vehicle access to the river that allows simultaneous take-out for multiple groups;
  • Providing all water-level pedestrian trails to the river;
  • Adequate and safe parking;
  • Staffing from Don Pedro Recreation Area or contract with BLM to provide security;
  • Radio or cell tower to accommodate emergency communication;
  • Day use area including picnic tables;
  • Working bathroom facilities that are open to the public.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comment.




Photos by Bob Stanley














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