The North Fork of the Feather River will be boatable every day for the rest of 2016! Flows will increase because of a revised flow schedule and the wet year we are having in California. This new flow schedule will provide great boating all summer long for the Tobin section of the Feather.
In December of 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved a new flow schedule for the Rock Creek and Cresta hydroelectric projects. Increases in flows this year are part of the new license issued back in 2001 and also stem from recent negotiations between American Whitewater, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, and local, state and federal resource agencies.
In addition to continuing summer releases in June, July, August and September, the wet water year forecast will require PG&E to release much higher base flows. The end result will be boatable flows on the Tobin section of the Feather throughout 2016. The Cresta reach will be boatable through July. These new flows are part of an adaptive management plan where American Whitewater has been an active participant since 2001.
This process required that State and Federal agencies, PG&E, American Whitewater and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance evaluate a myriad of study results to determine what flows would improve the river ecosystem. In addition to increasing base flows, a ramping rate was developed that more closely mimics natural flows. This new flow condition will be more protective of Foothill Yellow Legged Frogs and provide boatable days when high flows cause a spill event (water high enough to spill over the dam). During a spill event flows will be ramped down at a rate protective to the frogs, called spill cessation. This recession rate would be less than 1 foot over 3 weeks, netting 21 days of flows between the high of 1000 cfs down to 520 cfs.
Almost twenty years ago, American Whitewater made it our goal to restore the North Fork Feather River. This new flow regime is a testament to our success in achieving that goal.