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Lakeport, Calif., February 22, 1974.


House of Representatives,
Washington, D.C.

DEAR CONGRESSMAN TAYLOR: The Clear Lake Water Quality Council, a citizens group of 2,311 members, wishes to protest the inclusion of the Eel River in H.R. 8609, the Federal Wild Rivers Bill, which was introduced by Congressman Jerome Waldie on June 12, 1973.

Attached hereto is documentation that will support our objection to this legislation from the standpoint of flood control, the energy crisis and our expanding water needs.

The Council feels that the decision on what to do with the Eel River should properly remain in the hands of the people whose lives it will directly effect, the State of California, and we request that you take immediate action to delete the Eel River from H.R. 8609 amending Section 3 (a) of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968.



[From the Humboldt Beacon Fortuna, Calif., Jan. 24, 1974]


California's North Coast is periodically subject to severe storms and heavy rainfall and is particularly susceptible to flood damage because of the lack of flood control works in this area. In 1955, 1964 and 1974 record floods resulted in an appalling loss of lives and property. Statistics for 1974 have not yet been compiled, but 1964 shows a loss of 3,400 head of cattle valued at $1,190,000 in the Bel River Delta alone. The communities of Pepperwood and Myers Flat were completely destroyed. Nineteen deaths were reported in the Eel River Basin. Flood waters were so devastating 30 miles of railroad track were twisted and uprooted. Total flood and storm damages for the Eel region were estimated at $18,600,000. Total evaluated damages for the North Coast area amounted to $193,400,000.

[Dept. of Water Resources Bulletin No. 69-65 pp. 49-58.]


(By Jams G. Barrett,1 Chairman, Clear Lake Water Quality Council Technical Committee)

For more than 100 years man has unknowingly, but continually, been causing the detrimental alteration of the Eel River Watershed.

The history of the area 2 shows how mans methods of management for timber and livestock, have not been suited to the fragile natural resources. Mans influence on the Eel has caused a progressive deterioration of the watershed to a point beyond natural rehabilitation. The Eel River has become one of the dirtiest rivers in the world. It has an average annual sediment discharge of 12,360 acre feet 3 (20 million tons, or enough silt and sediment, if placed on a city block, to reach an elevation 5 times as high as the Empire State Building). During the flood of 1964, some 64,000 acre feet (100 million tons) of silt and sediment went down the Eel.

This repetitious flooding and production of silt and sediment pollutes water, damages recreation and esthetic values, destroys fish and wildlife habitat, endangers personal property and lives, and has an adverse impact on the entire


1 James G. Barrett, District Conservation, USDA, Soil Conservation Service, Lake County. Served on the River Basins Planning Staff and took part in the investigations of the North Coastal Area of California, and helped formulate recommendations for treatment of their watershed.

2 "California Range Land" by L.T. Burcham, published by California Division of Forestry, 1957

3 North Coastal River Basins, Appendix No. 1, Eel and Mad River Basins, USDA, River Basin Planning Staff, 1970

This situation on the Eel River can not, and will not correct itself. Man must exert the corrective influence to heal and rehabilitate the watershed. To place the Eel River in a wild river category would prevent the corrective actions that need to be taken by men, and would instead continue his past mistakes into perpetuity.

[blocks in formation]

1 Figures courtesy of Contra Costa County Water Agency; all other figures have been obtained from the California Department of Water Resources.

"If water were available an additional 60,000 acres of prime agricultural land could be opened up." Lake County Overall-Economic-Development-Progress Report 1970.

In original planning of dams upon the North Coast streams, power generation was considered, but was not included in later planning because of the low return from power generated. However, now that the energy crisis is upon us these projects are being re-evaluated through-out the entire State. The Dept. of Water Resources will publish a report on the evaluation of either (1) expanding existing facilities or (2) construction of additional facilities, including the North Coast streams. This report will be available in the middle of March. Certainly with the energy crunch, it appears that these would be much more feasible now. [California State Department of Water Resources.]

FRIENDS OF THE EARTH, Washington, D.C., November 8, 1973.


Chairman, Subcommittee on National Parks and Recreation,
Washington, D.C.

DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Since I was unable to testify at the hearings on October 29 and 30 on wild and scenic rivers, I would appreciate your including this letter in the hearing record.

Friends of the Earth urges that all 15 rivers that are the subject of these bills be added immediately to the study category of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The rivers are all known to be excellent candidates for permanent placement in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. What we seek is prompt and adequate study, and the interim protection that goes with study status under the parent Act.

The Administration is to be deplored for the obviously dilatory tactic of requesting delay on all but three of the 15 rivers. They have had several years to prepare recommendations, yet they say they cannot even make up their minds on which rivers should be put on the study list. To an Administration that has frittered away years, another three months is not going to be much help.

We urge the committee to proceed with dispatch on all 15 rivers, which are listed below: First, the three which the Administration favored:

H.R. 8502-Green River, Wyoming.

H.R. 8577-Sweetwater River, Wyoming.

H.R. 8578-Snake River, Wyoming.

Next, seven rivers for which study bills are pending:

H.R. 8501-Clark's Fork, Wyoming.

H.R. 8643-Sipsey Fork, Alabama.

H.R. 8735-Chama, Gila and San Francisco Rivers, New Mexico.
H.R. 11120-New River, North Carolina and Virginia.

Finally, we favor immediate study status for the rivers listed in H.R. 8609, recognizing that they are not going to be considered at this time for actual placement in the Wild and Scenic Rivers System: the Smith, Eel, San Joaquin, Klamath and Trinity Rivers. These rivers clearly need and deserve study status at this time.

We applaud the Subcommittee's decision to consider these important bills in this busy fall season, and we appreciate the opportunity to present our views. Sincerely,

Legislative Director

Hon. Roy A. TAYLOR,

WARRENSBURG, Mo., November 26, 1973.

Chairman, Subcommittee on National Parks and Recreation,
House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs

Washington, D.C.

DEAR REPRESENTATIVE TAYLOR: I would like to comment on the various scenic river study bills which were the subject of hearings before your subcommittee on October 29 and 30 and ask that you include my letter as part of the record of said hearings.

For many years I have been involved in the exploration and study of scenic rivers in the U.S., have served as a guide and have written a guidebook and many articles on rivers. I can vouch for the quality of all 15 of the rivers currently under consideration for the study category.

All of the rivers under consideration have already been screened by Interior or Agriculture agencies and have been recommended highly by river people who know the rivers intimately. I am therefore very disturbed by the fact that Administration witnesses asked for delays on all but the Green, Sweetwater and Snake (H.R. 8502, 8577 and 8578 respectively) in Wyoming. Some of the rivers which would be thus delayed are of much higher quality than many of those included in the study category in the original Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Thus, it seems senseless and wasteful for studies to be made to see whether these rivers should be studied. We know that the rivers are of high quality and deserving of consideration from data already gathered. In fact, one, the Sipsey Fork (H. R. 8643) has already been the subject of three studies.

The Chama in New Mexico (H. R. 8735) is a river with scenic qualities (on a smaller scale) similar to those of the Yampa in Dinosaur National Monument except that it can be navigated even in open canoes.

The Clark's Fork (H.R. 8501) is a fine river in a state of many fine rivers. If possible, however, the Clark's Fork Canyon should also be studied. It is one of the most spectacular, deep, narrow canyons which I have seen in the west. The New River (H.R. 11120) is one of the finest whitewater runs in the east for experienced paddlers. However, its popularity, especially with hordes of rafters, means that it must be studied as soon as possible so that if it is declared a scenic river, management can begin and prevent degradation.

I urge quick action on all the scenic river study bills which are under consideration. We have already stalled too long in taking action to preserve the finer rivers in this country.



DESCRIPTION OF THE CHAMA RIVER, NEW MEXICO, FROM MILE 119 AT THE COLORADO BORDER TO MILE O AT ITS CONFLUENCE WITH THE RIO GRANDE [NOTE-This description, by Doug Murphy, river study co-ordinator for the Southwest Study Committee and professional river guide, is written primarily from the standpoint of the white-water boater; but, it serves very well to point out the exceptional qualities of the Rio Chama and why this nationally significant river should be studied further for possible addition to the National Wild & Scenic Rivers System-The Southwest River Study Committee]

Mile 1194 New Mexico-Colorado State Line. As the Chama crosses into New Mexico at approximately 8450 feet, it flows through a grassy valley. Cottonwoods and some aspen border the river. The principal use of the river here is trout fishing; scenic beauty for hikers is also present. There is private land on both banks-should qualify for recreational status here. Mile 1184 Road crossing. Still in private land (private land continues until mile 67-Tierra Amarilla Land Grant.) This road crossing is the "set-in" for whitewater boaters runnning the Lobato Gorge of the Chama River.


Lobato Gorge runs from the dirt road access at mile 1184 to Chama River Park at Mile 1124, just north of the town of Chama. This run is a challenge to even the most expert and skilled boatman-it is graded V and VI in difficulty on a VI scale. The average boating season is April, May, and June. Fishing, hiking, picknicking, and rock climbing are other recreational activities possible in Lobato Gorge. It should qualify as "scenic."

Mile 1174 Chama River enters Lobato Gorge. Mixed conifer fills the gorge. Mile 1162 Beginning of the "Chama Cascades" rapids. Grade V and VI. The gorge walls are steep and range from 200 to 600 feet high.

Mile 1164 Confluence of Wolf Creek from the northeast. Boating is possible on this stream in high water.

Mile 1152 End of "Chama Cascades." The wills of the gorge are still 200 to 500 feet high with extremely steep sides. Cottonwoods begin to replace the mixed conifer forest along the river.

Mile 113 The Chama River flows out of Lobato Gorge.


The Chama Valley runs from Chama River Park to La Puente. It should qualify as "recreational". Values are trout fishing, scenic beauty for hiking and horseback riding, picknicking, camping, and whitewater boating. River grade is I and II, but boaters should be on the watch for fallen trees, some fences, and a few diversion dams. Average boating season is April, May, and June. Mile 1124 Access road on east bank at Chama River Park. This is a beautiful park filled with hardwoods, small bushes, and grass.

Mile 11214 Highway Bridge.

Mile 112 Scenic narrow guage train bridge.

Mile 1112 Chama, New Mexico.

Mile 110 Confluence of Little Creek from the east.

Mile 109% Highway 84 Bridge.

Mile 108 Dirt road crosses river just above confluence of Chamita Creek from northwest.

Mile 1062 Confluence of Los Angeles Creek from northeast. Dos Lomas Cliffs tower 300 to 400 feet above the Chama to the west.

Mile 103 Confluence of Canones Creek.

Mile 1011⁄2 Irrigation diversion.

Mile 982 Confluence of Rio Brazos. The Brazos is about half the size of the Chama at this point and contains possibly the largest and most beautiful canyon in New Mexico, the Brazos Box. The Brazos has very scenic whitewater boating even below the box, however, it is all on private land.

Mile 98 Heron Lake road bridge. Very good access for "takeout" on Chama Valley or Lower Brazos run and for "set-in" for Upper Chama Canyon run.

Mile 94% La Puente and Plaza Blanca on each side of Chama River. Last "take-out" for Chama Valley run and last "set-in" for Upper Chama Canyon run.


The Upper Chama Canyon runs from La Puente to the upper end of El Vado Reservoir and qualifies as "scenic". There is occasional road access and a few other developments in the canyon. The roads are primitive, however, and the other developments do not distract from the natural appearance of the canyon, except for Heron Dam which is visible up Willow Creek. Excellent trout fishing prevails in the entire canyon. Hiking and picnics in the small scenic parks along the canyon are also possible. The whitewater boating season is April, May, and June. The grade of difficulty is III+. This canyon has already been used by a commercial outfitter and holds possibilities for other boaters. Deer, beaver, small mammals, and birds are all easily observed in the canyon.

Mile 942 Park View ditch pours back into Chama from the south east. Canyon wall begins on southeast side only, 225 feet high. Begin "scenic" qualification.

Mile 934 Canyon wall on both banks of the river.

Mile 92 Confluence of Rito de Tierra Amarilla. Canyon walls very sheer, 100 feet high.

Mile 914 La Puente Gauging Station. A ford crosses the river just below the gauge. At higher water levels this causes a 3 foot high recirculating wave across the entire river.

Mile 89 Upper Chama Canyon gets steeper and deeper with thick ponderosa pine forest filling the canyon.

Mile 872 Lunch Rock Rapids. Enormous boulders choke the river channel, causing a short low grade III rapid.

Mile 87% Big Mama Chama Rapids. Has an "S" turn entry. Massive boulders again constrict the channel forming a long grade III+ rapid. Boaters should get out above the rapid on their right and check the course, as it is an expert's slalom course through boulders too large to see over or around. It is filled with very tight bends and boiling eddies.

Mile 86% Double amphitheater on outside of bend to the right. The Canyon is now 300 feet deep; rock climbing is possible all along the canyon.

Mile 86 Heron Hole. Giant boulders constrict the channel forming a short III+ rapid. In high water at the very top-middle of the rapid, there is a hole that can engulf and swallow a boat. Stop and check your route.

Mile 854 Willow Creek confluence. Road access to Chama from Heron Dam. The dam can be seen closing off Willow Creek Canyon to the north.

Mile 844 When El Vado is filled to capacity, the Chama reaches still water here.

Mile 824 Take-out for the Upper Chama run. The road comes into the upper end of El Vado from the Heron Reservoir road. Sometimes the Chama is still flowing here.


Doesn't qualify for the National Wild Life & Scenic Rivers System.


This is the largest and grandest canyon of the Chama River, with canyon depths of over 2000 feet. It runs from El Vado Dam to the upper reaches of Abiquiu Reservoir. Chama Canyon qualifies as "scenic" with occasional road access. However, between roads it is very much a wilderness in which deer, bear, and elk have been seen. A pair of bald eagles also make their home in this canyon along with innumerable other birds, reptiles, beavers, and small mammals. Recreational use in Chama Canyon is fishing for trout, catfish, and several other warm and cold water species; hiking; camping; mountaineering; horse packing; and whitewater boating. It is an excellent canoe run, being rated grade III. The average boating season is April, May, June, and July. Chama Canyon also seems commercial boating use. Very weird and spectacular rock formations, good for climbing, fill the canyon from mile 662 to 46.

Mile 762 Cooper's Ranch "put-in". Camping and overnight cabins are available.

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