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FERC Denies Boating on the McCloud River (CA)

Posted: 08/23/2010
by Carla Miner

FERC has released their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the McCloud /Pit Hydroelectric Project in Northern California. In this document FERC staff provides their “preferred alternative” for flows on the McCloud River that could go into the new project license to PG&E.  In the DEIS, FERC has evaluated a number of flow proposals from, PG&E, the Forest Service, Angling Groups, and American Whitewater.

The McCloud River is quite possibly the best Class III/IV multi-day run in California.  While many boaters are familiar with the free flowing run on the McCloud River above McCloud Reservoir, relatively few people have been able to experience the lower McCloud.  This is due to the fact that the waters of the upper McCloud, which are high enough to be boatable throughout the summer, are diverted by PG&E leaving a small fraction of that flow below the Dam.  It has been American Whitewater’s goal to restore more natural flows in the lower McCloud that would better protect the river and return some fraction of the boating opportunity that would have existed before this project was built in 1960.

Unfortunately, FERC has different plans. In the DEIS they are recommending to keep lower flows that are preferred by some anglers.  In the DEIS FERC states, “Given the importance of the existing blue ribbon fishery in the Lower McCloud River, we give more weight to safe angling opportunities than to recreational boating. Therefore, for reasons noted above, we do not recommend American Whitewater’s recreational spring boating releases”.  We are dumbfounded at this response, particularly because we were only asking for 1% of the boatable days to be returned on the McCloud.  Even under the flow schedule that was proposed by the Forest Service, which we supported, the median number of boatable days per year would be two, while the number of angling days would be 200. In our view this has nothing to do balancing interests, this is about eliminating boating from this river.

A small but vocal group of anglers that are vehemently opposed to whitewater boating have been advocating to FERC, the Forest Service, and all other agencies that have any regulatory authority, that boating should be either banned or relegated to the winter months before angling season.  What has been most astounding is that it has been the same angling groups that have been most vocal in their opposition to whitewater pulse flow that also oppose restoring more natural flow patterns to the McCloud.  Their position is that they wish the McCloud to be at a wadable fishing flow every day of the year.

Fortunately, this is just the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.  We still have time to change FERC’s view that this river should be managed solely for recreational angling.  Here are some things you can do -

 If you would like to read the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the McCloud-Pit Hydroelectric Project you can download the document at:

FIRST, write to FERC and tell them that:

·      there are few class III/IV wilderness runs and that paddlers deserve the opportunity to boat the McCloud.

·      FERC needs to restore a more natural hydrograph that provides for boating opportunity in the spring.

·      managing this river solely for angling is wrong and returning 1% of the boatable days is not too much to ask.

Please send letters ASAP and preferably before Tuesday, September 28, 2010.

You have three options for filing comments with FERC:

  1. You can register directly on the FERC website <> and electronically file a formal comment under project docket P-2106-047. This option allows you to subscribe to the docket and follow the process. (please contact me if you would like additional assistance).
  2. You can file an eComment with FERC <> this is an option for short comments (less than 6,000 characters). File under docket P-2106-047. This option is simpler than filing a formal comment.
  3. You can file by mail using the address below.  Please put in the subject line reference "FERC P-2106-047".

Send letters to:

Ms. Kimberly D. Bose


Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

888 First Street, NE 

Washington, DC 20426

Or, you can email your comments to AW and our Stewardship Assistant Carla Miner can file on your behalf; copy Dave Steindorf on your emailed comments.

SECOND, show up to the pubic comment meeting that will be held on Thursday, September 9th in Redding.  We need to show FERC that this resource is important to the paddling community.

Morning meeting:
Date:               September 9, 2010
Time:                  9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Place:                  Holiday Inn Hotel, 1900 Hilltop Drive, Redding, CA

Evening meeting:
Date:                   September 9, 2010
Time:                  7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Place:                  Holiday Inn Hotel, 1900 Hilltop Drive, Redding, CA

Dave Steindorf
4 Baroni Drive
Chico, CA 95928
Phone: 530-343-1871