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Support New Flows For the McCloud River

Posted: 11/23/2009
by Dave Steindorf

American Whitewater has been working for three years to get improved flows on the McCloud River, quite possibly the best class III/ IV wilderness run in California. In order for this to become a reality we need your support!  We need to get letters off to the resource agencies ASAP to show that whitewater boaters are interested in the McCloud.   The agencies have proposed a flow schedule that we think is a huge improvement over the existing flows.  This flow schedule mimics the natural hydrograph by having high flows in the spring.  These flows will provide two months of good boating in an above normal year and one month in a below normal water year.  We also believe that these flows will create better conditions for fish, frogs and help to maintain the river channel.


Unfortunately this flow schedule is being met with opposition from some anglers.  These anglers are arguing, along with PG&E, that the existing flows are fine and should not be changed. We understand that the current flow regime has provided the maximum number of days for wading based angling and some anglers are upset at the prospect of having this change.  While we agree that wading based angling is a very important use of the McCloud River it is by no means the only interest that should be considered in the balancing that must be done as part of this relicensing.  For American Whitewater’s part we have acknowledged this angling use by not advocating for flow releases specifically for whitewater recreation.  It has been our view from the beginning of this relicensing process that a flow schedule that mimicked natural flow patterns would bring ecosystem improvements as well as provide for whitewater recreation.


We believe that the flow proposal crafted by the resource agencies meets all of these needs.  This flow schedule, which has high flows in the spring that gradually taper off, is similar to other flow schedules that have been adopted on FERC projects on other rivers including, the North Fork Feather and the San Joaquin.  In addition to mimicking the natural flow patterns, this flow schedule will reduce the extreme flow fluctuations that currently occur in the spring.  The modeling that has been done comparing the agency flow proposal to the PG&E proposal clearly shows that flow fluctuations will be reduced.  It also shows that in 70 percent of the years there will be no impact to angling days.  In the remaining years higher spring flows will reduce the magnitude of flow fluctuations during spill events.  Spring flow fluctuations have been shown to be very detrimental to frogs that breed in this period. Higher flow also help to keep vegetation from encroaching into the channel. Again these flow are designed to mimic that natural patterns that occur in all western rivers.


While we understand that there is a desire by some anglers to have the McCloud at wadeable flows every day during the fishing season it is important to note that doing so will cause more erratic flow fluctuations than what the agencies have proposed.  We find it rather ironic that the same entities that have been railing against flow fluctuations for whitewater recreation are now advocating for more rapid flow fluctuations for the benefit of wading based angling.

The McCloud River is a truly amazing resource that deserves protection.  The river journey from McCloud Dam to Lake Shasta is one of the most beautiful river trips in California.  As on flyfishing guide stated at a meeting this year “I support anyone that loves this river.”  American Whitewater couldn’t agree more.  We support all of those who care about this river, and about sharing it with future generations, no matter their recreational pursuits. 


If you are interested in sending a letter to any of the resource agencies who are involved with this project, please send them to:


  J. Sharon Heywood

  Forest Supervisor

  Shasta-Trinity National Forest

  3644 Avtech Parkway

  Redding, CA 96002


  Ms. Victoria A. Whitney, Deputy Director

  Division of Water Rights

  California State Water Resources Control

  1001 I Street, 14th Floor

  Sacramento, CA 95814


  Mr. Gary Stacy

  Regional Manager

  Northern District

  California Department of Fish and Game

  Redding, California







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