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View 2007 Awards

Save the South Fork

Lead Group(s):

Friends of the River




After one protest the public utility
banned Friends of the River –
and the media – from a public hearing

Support Group(s):  

Sierra Club, Trout Unlimited, California Trout, and dozens of other groups

Description of the Problem the Campaign is seeking to address (50 word max):

Convince SMUD, a publicly owned utility, to change operation of its dams on the South Fork American River to make them friendlier to the river, the environment, and people who use the South Fork, perhaps the most popular whitewater stretch in the country.

Description of the Victory (30 word max):

Protests, 20,000 letters, and hard negotiating during dam relicensing led to the utility agreeing to make the South Fork once again environmentally healthy.

A Brief Description of the long-term impact of the victory (150 word max):

After more than five years of campaigning and negotiating, FOR, the utility SMUD, state and federal agencies, and NGO's signed an agreement to relicense a series of dams and reservoirs on the South Fork American River. This greatly improves the conditions of the South Fork and its tributaries by:
    Greatly increasing minimum river flows to mimic natural variation and enhance conditions for fish and wildlife.
    Enhancing recreation by creating new kayaking and rafting opportunities.
    Creating pulse flows that simulate natural springtime runoff and maintain the river ecology by flushing sediment and debris, improving water temperature and quality, and creating habitat.
    Providing financial assistance to agencies to operate recreational facilities near the river.
    Creating a reliable river flow for California's most popular whitewater river.
This agreement ensures the South Fork American River and its tributaries will remain for future generations.