The Dam That Wouldn't Die
You've heard of "logging without laws." Now get ready for
damming without laws. To be exact, Auburn Dam without laws.
"Auburn Dam is an unnecessary water project disguised as
flood control," said Kathy Crist of the Mother Lode Chapter.
She and hundreds of local activists have written letters and
flooded hearings to oppose the dam. This summer, volunteers
are planning a nationwide letters-to-the-editor campaign,
outreach to the media and outings events into the canyons
with local elected officials to stop Auburn Dam.
It's not just the proposed dam that's alarming, but the
"sufficiency language" in the current bill that would exempt
the project from adhering to environmental laws, such as the
Endangered Species Act or the Clean Water Act. The timber
salvage "logging without laws" provision that President
Clinton signed last summer also contained sufficiency
Environmentalists defeated a similar proposal in 1992, but
Auburn Dam was resurrected from the dead this year by Reps.
John Doolittle (R-Calif.) and Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) along
with Reps. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.) and Bob Matsui (D-Calif.).
They introduced H.R. 3270, the Disaster Prevention and
Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1996, which calls for an
expandable, multi-purpose dam that will flood 50 miles of
the north and middle forks of the American River just north
But Doolittle has run into opposition. In early May, the
Clinton administration left out $935 million Doolittle was
expecting for his bill from the 1996 Water Resources
Development Act. Instead, the administration's proposal
allocates $57 million for a portion of the non-controversial
flood control improvements within the city of Sacramento
that the Sierra Club, federal resource agencies and other
allies have recommended.
In addition, 21 co-sponsors, including seven Republicans,
have signed on to Rep. Thomas Petri's (R-Wisc.) bill, H.R.
2951, which prohibits authorization of federal funds for
"Club members across the country are putting in plenty of
overtime to make sure Auburn is dead again, once and for
all," Crist said.
To take action:
Thank President Clinton for offering a cost-
effective alternative to provide Sacramento with flood
protection - without destroying the American River canyons
or throwing out our environmental laws. Tell him that you
support his proposed 50/50 flood control cost-share reform
to equitably distribute the burden of paying for projects
from taxpayers to cities that create the need for such
Contact your representative and urge him or her to co-
sponsor H.R. 2951 and oppose H.R. 3270.
For more information:
Contact Kathy Crist at the Mother Lode
Chapter at (916) 557-1108 or e-mail :
Stopping Sprawl in Maryland
If Banyan Management, a Chicago development syndicate, has
its way, a 2,250-acre forest along the Lower Potomac River
in Charles County, Md., will become Chapman's Landing, a
brand new city with 4,600 housing units, 2.25 million square
feet of commercial space, plus recreational facilities. But
Club activists like Bonnie Bick, conservation chair for the
Southern Maryland Group and president of Friends of Mt.
Aventine, are fighting this threat of urban sprawl in their
Environmentalist and angler groups say that Chapman's
Landing would harm outstanding fisheries and rich wildlife
habitat as well as increase air and water pollution.
"Citizens are concerned about a substantial increase in
traffic, air pollution from that traffic and runoff into the
Potomac River and Mattawoman Creek tributary," Bick said.
"The Army Corps and the state are trying to dance around
these critical issues by not doing an Environmental Impact
Bick said an environmental impact statement is the best
opportunity to review the detrimental effect of the
development. But the Corps isn't convinced one is necessary
and instead is conducting a less intensive assessment. In
the meantime, opposition has been overwhelming. The Corps
has received approximately 1,400 letters since December
asking for an EIS.
Not only does the development threaten to fragment critical
habitat, it would also destroy a valuable cultural site. One-
third of the proposed city would overlay Mt. Aventine, an
important historical and archaeological landmark. The
imminent threat of the development has earned the Lower
Potomac River the dubious distinction of being placed on the
1996 American Rivers list of "most threatened rivers."
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