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SNYLFACTION ALERT: Support Habitat Protection For Endangered Sierra Amphibians
Steve Evans, Wild & Scenic Program
 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is seeking public comments on its proposal to designate and protect critical habitat for three endangered amphibians in the Sierra Nevada – the Sierra yellow-legged frog, mountain yellow-legged frog, and Yosemite toad. If and when it is approved, the habitat designation will provide a measure of protection for wild lands and streams throughout the mountain range, particularly in the northern Sierra.
 
But anti-environmental members of Congress and local County Supervisors in the pockets of the timber and ranching industries are mobilizing against the proposal, claiming falsely that protecting the frogs and their habitat will somehow close public lands to recreation, limit private land development, and harm local economies.  Without an outpouring of support from the public who care about wild places and wildlife, the proposal may be doomed. Concerned frog and toad lovers have until November 18, 2013 to support the critical habitat protection proposal.
 
 
Background
The USFWS is proposing to list the Sierra and mountain yellow-legged frogs in the Sierra Nevada as endangered and the Yosemite toad as threatened. The Sierra  yellow-legged frog inhabits the northern to central Sierra, while the mountain yellow-legged frog is found in the central to southern Sierra. Yosemite toads are generally found in high mountain meadows along the central Sierra crest. These amphibians were once common throughout the mountain range but have suffered drastic declines in population due to the degradation and loss of habitat from logging, overgrazing, and water diversions. The frogs have also suffered from the introduction of predacious trout and other fish to formerly fishless waters and the spread of a deadly fungus. Today, these threatened amphibians are generally found only in the higher elevations of their former range.
 
Endangered species status protects individual animals but one of the most effective provisions of the Act is the designation and protection of critical habitat needed to sustain and restore endangered species populations.  The USFWS is proposing to designate more than two million acres of critical habitat for the three amphibians in the Sierra Nevada, most of it located on publicly-owned National Forests and National Parks, ranging from Butte County in the northern Sierra to Tulare County in the southern part of the mountain range.
 
North Fork American Wild RiverMuch of the habitat designation in the central and southern Sierra overlaps with already protected National Forest and National Park wilderness areas. But the habitat designation for the Sierra yellow-legged frog in the northern to central Sierra will provide an important measure of protection for relatively unprotected wild lands and streams, and their upper watersheds, on the Lassen, Plumas, Tahoe, Eldorado, and Stanislaus National Forests.
 
Just some of the wild watersheds and streams that could be protected with the habitat designation for the Sierra yellow-legged frog include (from north to south):
  • Upper South Yuba River Watershed, including roadless lands in the Castle Peak and Grouse Lakes areas recommended by conservation groups for wilderness protection.
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  • Upper North Fork American River watershed, including the High Loch Leven Lakes area and several tributary streams to the North Fork American Wild River.
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  • Upper South Fork American River watershed, including several tributaries draining the Desolation Wilderness and Caples Creek, a Forest Service recommended Wilderness.
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  • Upper North Fork Mokelumne River watershed, including the Blue Lakes area, the Pacific Valley potential addition to the Carson Iceberg Wilderness, and the segment of the upper North Fork Mokelumne recommended for Wild & Scenic River protection by the Forest Service.
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  • Upper Middle Fork Stanislaus River watershed, including the Clark Fork Stanislaus, Deadman Creek, Kennedy Creek and other tributaries recommended for Wild & Scenic protection by the Forest Service, as well as potential additions to the Carson Iceberg and Emigrant Wilderness areas.
Anti-environmental Congressmembers and local County Supervisors beholden to the timber and ranching industries convinced the USFWS to extend the public comment deadline so that anti-amphibian forces can flood the public record against protecting critical habitat. Now is your opportunity to support protection for these endangered critters and the wild Sierra meadows, lakes, and streams in which they live. Please send your email supporting designation of their critical habitat TODAY.
 
 
Click on the “Comment Now” button in the top right-hand corner. Feel free to cut and paste the generic comments below and to add any personal comments you may have, particularly about some of the wild places in the northern Sierra that could be protected with the habitat designation. Your comments must be emailed by Nov. 18, 2013.
 
SAMPLE COMMENTS:
Dear U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:
 
I strongly support the designation and protection of more than 2 million acres of critical habitat for the endangered Sierra and mountain yellow-legged frogs and the threatened Yosemite toad. Existing scientific studies and the best available scientific information clearly justifies the protection of these endangered amphibians and their habitat.
Designation of critical habitat will ensure that the wild meadows, lakes, and streams that these amphibians call home are not degraded by logging, grazing, and water diversions. I am a frequent visitor to Sierra Nevada and knowing that this magnificent mountain range will continue to support native amphibians is important to my enjoyment of public lands.
  
Designating critical habitat for the Sierra yellow-legged frog in particular will provide a measure of protection for relatively unprotected wild places on the National Forests in the northern and central Sierra Nevada. Just a few of the wild places on National Forest lands that would be provided a measure of protection with the critical habitat designation for the Sierra yellow-legged frog include the upper watershed of the South Yuba, North Fork American, South Fork American, North Fork Mokelumne, and the Middle Fork Stanislaus rivers.
  
The critical habitats for these endangered critters are largely located on public lands, so it is important to recognize that the designation will have little impact on private property rights or uses.
  
Thank you for proposing protection for these endangered amphibians and their critical habitat.
  
Sincerely,
(name, address)
 

Mark Dubois speaks about David NesmithCalifornia River Awards a joyous and successful event!
Johnnie Carlson, FOR Operations Director
  
Hundreds of river lovers from across the state gathered in San Francisco for the 2013 California River Awards on October 25th to celebrate two heroes of river conservation and contribute to the ongoing battle to save our free flowing rivers from the greatest threat of the 21st century – the Peripheral Tunnels!
  
David NesmithFOR’s honorees that night were Representative Jared Huffman and David “Chicken” Nesmith. David Nesmith, known fondly as “Chicken,” received the Mark Dubois Award to honor his being a driving force in environmental and river conservation communities for more than 30 years. He directed the Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club and has led campaigns at Friends of the Earth, Save the Bay, and National Land for People. Most recently, as Facilitator for the Environmental Water Caucus, David championed ecosystem restoration and limits to water exports from the Delta. While his work and accomplishments are legion, none is greater than his leadership in the successful decade-long effort working with California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Foothill Conservancy, Sierra Club, and Friends of the River to convince the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Board of Directors to reverse the decision to raise Pardee Dam, saving a significant stretch of the Mokelumne River from inundation.
  
FOR Board with Jared HuffmanRepresentative Jared Huffman, an avid angler and member of the House Committee on Natural Resources and the House Budget Committee, received the Peter Behr Award. In a remarkable feat for a freshman in Congress, Huffman successfully steered his bill adding Point Arena and the Garcia River estuary to the California Coastal National Monument out of the Natural Resources Committee in June. He has also ably opposed several environmentally destructive bills considered by the committee, including the bill to remove federal protection from a segment of the Merced Wild River. He is working closely with Friends of the River and other conservation groups to identify for protection potential Wild & Scenic Rivers and other wild places on public lands in his district.
  
Sharing stories of David Nesmith at preventThere were some incredibly touching and tearful moments with our honorees. Our auctioneer, David Sobon, with an assist from board member Bob Cushman, facilitated the most successful auction we’ve had. The evening closed with a mini-concert by Grammy award winning musician Laurie Lewis and a rousing speech by FOR’s Executive Director Bob Center. What takes FOR months to prepare was over all too soon…and we are already excited planning for next year!
  
CRA party goers swap river storiesFOR would like to thank the numerous volunteers who helped pull together the event, extend all our guests a very warm welcome and ensure that everyone enjoyed a spectacular night! Our event Host Committee was: Marguerite Young, Co-Chair, Richard Weiss, Co-Chair, Bob Cushman, Nick DiCroce, Jeff Depew, Katherine Evatt, Cynthia Koehler, Doug Linney, Harriet Moss, Barry Nelson, Corley Phillips, Renee Sharp and Jim Wheaton. The event staff was Bob Center, Mandi Garcia, Katy Cotter, Patrick Huber, Ron Stork, and Steve Evans.  Our event vendors were event and stage management: Lauren Hewitt, Nancy Dunn and Bill Price, catering: Mike Garcia and Left Coast Depot, lighting: Just De’ Lights, audiovisual: Creative Projection Services.  Event volunteers were emcee Dolly Sandoval, Gabriel & Claire Ross, Steven & Anna Alsbrooks, Greg Gilmore, Anthony Garcia, Brian Erickson, Corey Gibson, Rene Hamlin, Ythsta Resovcih, Melissa Miller Henson, Terri Gaines, Ron Wu, Chris Orman, Greg Martin, Raul Tornel, Erica Neuman, Mark Taylor, Julene Freitas, Dave & Melanie Starr Mac Innis, and Margery Lazarus.
  
Lastly, we would like to extend a very hearty thank you (and ask you to consider patronizing the business or thanking the individuals the next time you see them on river) our generous sponsors and event donors:
 
CRA auction biddersOur 2013 California River Awards sponsors included: WILD & SCENIC Level: Patagonia, Guy & Jeanine Saperstein, CASSCADE Level : Dean Alper, Nancy & John Cassidy, Karen Lovdahl & Jeff Chanin, Pisces Foundation, WHITWATER Level: Adventure Connection/Nate Rangel, All Outdoors/Scott Armstrong, Camp Lotus/Bill & Robin Center, Jann Dorman, Environmental Water Caucus, Alexander Gaguine & Eileen Balian, Sue Ghilotti, Marin Municipal Water District, Howard Robinson, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Sonoma County Water Agency, Ragesh Tangri & Daralyn Durie, South Fork American River Outfitters, TRIBUTARY Level : Anonymous, Lucy Blake & Steve Nightingale, California Canoe and Kayak/Keith Miller, Mary Ann Cobb & Peter Wilson, Bob & Faith Cushman, Duane Morris LLP, Jeff Depew & Trish Hayward, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Rob & Suzanne Ferroggiaro, Foothill Conservancy, Jim & Marna Genes, Scott Halsted, Alison Harvey & Dave Loera, Walter Kieser, Will Lichtig & Ilene Starin, Marty Kurtovich, Larry Lundberg, Jonathan & Terrie McClelland, Harriet Moss, Julie Munger/Sierra Rescue, Natural Resources Defense Council, O.A.R.S., Joseph & Margrit Petrofsky, Corley & Patty Phillips, R.A.F.T. (Rebecca Lawton And Friends Together), Restore Hetch Hetchy, Suzanne Roberts, Dolly Sandoval & Ed Hoffman, Patty Schifferle & Bob Gilliom, Renee Sharp, Dave Shore, Kevan Urquhart, Richard Weiss, Jim Wheaton/Environmental Law Foundation, Greg & Jane Widroe, John Yost & Tory Read, and Marguerite Young.
  
Event donors of auction items, food and libations included: Brian Larky/Dalla Terra Winery, Capay Organics, Delicato Family Vineyards, Full Belly Farms, New Belgium Brewery, Ravenswood/Constellation, Alite Designs, All Outdoors, American River Resort, George Armstrong, Jason Bradley, Soni Bergman, Big Creek Inn, Brewery Gulch Inn, Kris Cadagan, Cafe Mahjaic, California Canoe and Kayak, CamelBak LLC, Captain Kirks, Chuck Stanley, Clavey Paddlesports, Dore Coller, Costanoa Resort, Bob Cushman, Joe Daly, Brent Davis, Mark Dubois, Eagle Creek, Eden Vale, EO Products, Joshua Ets Hokin, Full Belly Farm, Sue Ghilotti, Hofsa House, Representative Jared Huffman, Jack's Plastic Welding, Klean Kanteen, Kelty, Kokatat, Lowe Pro, Walter & Sally Melville, John McCutcheon, Bill McGinnis, Richard Montgomery, Harriet Moss, Mountain Gear, Julie Munger/Sierra Rescue, New Parkway, North Face, O.A.R.S., Osprey, Otter Bar, Outgo McNett, Tim Palmer, Pacific River Supply, Patagonia, Corley & Patty Phillips, Graeme Plant, Ponderosa Resort, REI, Ricochet Ridge Ranch, San Francisco Giants, Sierra Designs, Sierra Nevada Adventure Company, David Sobon, Sorensons Resort, Chuck Stanley, Volcano Union Hotel, Matt Wadlund, Richard Weiss, George Wendt, Wilby Optical, Jennifer Wu, Marguerite Young and Zephyr Whitewater.
  
Thank you all again! We hope to see you next year...and if you couldn’t join us this year…be sure to mark your calendar now for the next California River Award in mid-to-late October 2014!
  
 

The FOR Legal Program Volunteer Experience: How Giving Back Pays Off
Katy Cotter, Staff Counsel
  
Friends of the River’s legal program benefits from the tireless efforts of its law school and paralegal program interns. While in school, these students get hands-on experience with environmental law and litigation as well as the legislative process. As they are mentored from our two in-house attorneys, they gain insight as to what it’s like to work at a non-profit organization and get professional experience with issues that they are passionate about. Many of the students go on to have professions that give back to society.  Our members’ contributions to FOR help us run this program and provide students with valuable and meaningful work experience. Here is what a few of our interns have said about their time at FOR:
  
The legal internship program was a formative experience for me. Few programs offer interns a chance to tackle the biggest environmental issues of our time. I especially appreciated how Friends of the River takes a comprehensive approach to environmental advocacy.  - Andrew Day, Law School Intern, Summer of 2012
  
My time at Friend’s of the River was just fantastic and a great opportunity to get direct hands-on work experience on really big issues. Everyone was extremely friendly and I always enjoyed coming into work. - Michael Bland, Law School Intern, Summer of 2012
  
The time I spent at Friends of the River was immensely rewarding, personally, professionally, and educationally.  As a student in Paralegal Studies, I was given opportunities to do complex research, and also to help draft court documents.  I was able to work with very talented attorneys, which was a tremendous learning experience.  The atmosphere is very much one of camaraderie, and I definitely felt that I was contributing to an effort that was making a real difference.  - Andrew Zimmer, Paralegal Intern, 2013
  
I participated in my fourth year of law school, and found it remarkable! For the first time ever, I was consulted like a colleague and treated like someone who genuinely had something to offer. The work is rewarding for anyone with any kind of connection to the beautiful and wild rivers of our area. I found both staff and my fellow interns to be true "friends," always willing to pitch in or cheer me on. I take the bar in February, and after that plan to pitch in however I can help. It's that kind of place, and you are that kind of people! - Colleen Flannery, Law School Intern, 2012-2013
  
The internship gives me access to opportunities, and responsibilities, that many others are still seeking. The experience is trying at times, but growth and understanding has been the result.  - Tim Scully, Law School Intern, 2013
  
Learning to sift through thousands of pages to find one useful document is a skill I proudly display on my resume because every law firm needs a law clerk that knows how to research and analyze what they are reading to determine if it's helpful in the case.  - Amanda Hall, Law School Intern, Summer of 2013
 
Friends of the River offers a unique learning experience to its interns. Legal and paralegal interns participate in the excitement of groundbreaking environmental litigation while honing the skills they will use throughout their careers. - Patrick Huber, Law School Intern, 2013
 
 
  
 

Ron StorkRiver Currents
Ron Stork, Sr. Policy Advocate  
 
River saving work (and a certain northern California Congressman) has delayed my regular column - look for a special River Advocate with late breaking developments next week!
 
 


SalmonArmy Corps Under Fire for Evading Responsibility for Dam Impacts on Salmon
FOR Staff
  
In late October, the Corps released two Biological Assessments (BAs) regarding the Corps ongoing operation and maintenance of Englebright and Daguerre Point Dams on the Yuba River.  However, the Corps now asserts that the only activities they have discretion over are cleaning portable toilets and maintaining the campgrounds and boat ramps.  Operating and maintaining the 260-ft Englebright dam is omitted entirely. These assessments reverse the position the Corps held for more than a decade that the dams are part of the Army Corps’ Yuba River “project” – a regulatory definition meaning the dams must be operated to protect endangered and threatened species.
  
The South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), Friends of the River and American Rivers expressed deep concern that the Army Corps’ exclusion of Englebright Dam’s impacts on the listed fish species is an attempt to prevent the National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) from requiring any protections for threatened fish in NMFS’s subsequent biological opinion due in May 2014.  Federal fish biologists have found that salmon are in jeopardy of extinction due mainly to the fact that the dams block the fish from migrating upstream to adequate spawning habitat.  Read the full press release here (pdf)
  
 

50waysbuttonRiver Saving Tip: Reusable shopping bags great for the river and you!
Johnnie Carlson, Operations Director
  
Reusable shopping bags are under attack!  Yes, the folks that brought you the modern disposable-plastic society are worried that reusable bags could end civilization as we know it. It is not the loss of jobs, it is not the loss of profits, it is not the loss of supposed convenience form single-use plastic products…they claim that your reusable bags may be poisoning you and your whole family!
  
What? Well their argument comes down to the fact that fresh meat packaging as well as unwrapped and unwashed fruits and vegies carry bacteria, which is indeed the truth.
  
However, fear not!  We at Friends of the River have figured out how to save the reusable shopping bag and your very life – just wash all your reusable bags once a month. If you carried meats that leaked juices soak the bag in warm soppy water, hand wash it, and allow it to air-dry before you use it again. Therefore, shop away until your heart is content with your safe and sane reusable shopping bags!
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Learn more about the “50 Ways to Save Your River.” 

Downie RiverRiver in the Spotlight: The Downie River
Steve Evans, Wild & Scenic Program
 
The Downie River and its major tributaries - Rattlesnake Creek, Lavezzola Creek, Empire Creek, Red Oak Canyon, Pauley Creek, and Butcher Ranch Creek - flow into the North Yuba River near the small Sierra Nevada community of Downieville. Protecting these streams as National Wild & Scenic Rivers will maintain some of the best human-powered outdoor recreational opportunities in the northern Sierra, as well as Sierra County's vibrant and growing tourism-based economy.
 
 The extensive trail system in this area is popular with hikers, backpackers, anglers, equestrians, and mountain bikers. Trails along Pauley and Lavezzola creeks provide the route for the Coyote Classic, one of the most popular mountain bike events in the country. The Pacific Crest Trail traces the Yuba/Feather divide just of north of this area. Many of the streams in the area offer class IV-V whitewater for expert kayakers. Abundant petroglyphs and prehistoric sites are evidence of past Native American use.
 
 Moss CreekThe stream canyons support one of the largest blocks of ancient mixed coniferous forest in the northern Sierra, providing extensive high quality habitat for California spotted owl, pine martin, fisher, and wolverine. Other species in the area include bald eagle, golden eagle, Northern goshawk, pileated woodpecker, Sierra red fox, and foothill yellow-legged frog. The volcanic soils of the area support outstanding wildflower displays. The diverse forest Downie River Locator Mapand meadow ecosystems also provide potential habitat for several rare plants. The streams themselves support healthy populations of wild trout and other native fish. Lavezzola Creek is a state designated Wild Trout Stream.
 
The Downie River, Empire Creek, Lavezzola Creek, and Pauley Creek have been determined eligible for Wild & Scenic River status by the Forest Service in recognition of their outstanding ecological, recreational, historical/cultural, and hydrological values.
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November 14, 2013
Volume 3, Number 11
 
The Voice of California's Rivers
Since 1973
 
In this issue

ACTION ALERT:
Support Endangered Sierra Amphibians
 
FEATURES:
California River Awards a joyous and successful event
FOR Legal Program Volunteer Experience
Army Corps Under Fire for Dam Impacts on Salmon
 
DEPARTMENTS:
River Saving Tip: Reusable bags – wash them
River in the Spotlight: The Downie River

 

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The River Advocate is published by Friends of the River contact us at info@friendsoftheriver.org
   
 
 

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