Urge your State Assembly Member to Oppose AB 142

We need your help to stop AB 142, a Wild and Scenic River study bill that would set a bad precedent in state law. The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Frank Bigelow (R-O'Neals), who acted last year to kill SB 1199 (Hancock), which would have protected 37 miles of the Mokelumne with state Wild and Scenic river designation. We need your help to defeat AB 142 at the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. Find your State Assembly member.

Friends of the River and Foothill Conservancy are opposing this bad bill for the reasons below:

  • The bill has no cost cap for the study and no appropriation specified. There have already been two federal Wild and Scenic studies performed and the river is clearly eligible for designation because of its high water quality, cultural and historical resources, scenic beauty and recreational value. The state is currently spending more than $875,000 on the MokeWISE project to look at available water in the Mokelumne and alternatives and earlier spent a considerable amount on a watershed study. Another taxpayer-funded study is a waste of public funds.

  • SB 1199's local agency opponents opposed the bill last year because they claimed it would cost the state more money. Now they're supporting AB 142, which clearly will have costs - even though the cost aren't yet specified. So far, not one local Wild and Scenic opponent has indicated any willingness to contribute toward the study costs.

  • All past state Wild and Scenic study bills have included provisions to protect the eligible river from new dams and diversions while the study was pending. The Deer and Mill Creek legislation also prohibited state assistance of any kind for projects that could have an adverse effect on the eligible reaches of the river while the study is pending. AB 142 fails to include those provisions.

  • There's no deadline for the study. All past Wild and Scenic study bills have mandated that studies be complete by a specific date.

  • The bill is evidently intended to delay Wild and Scenic designation with the hope (and not-so-subtle message) that if a study shows even a remote possibility that river protection might affect future water supply options, the river should not be protected. As we said last year, we believe there are local water supply options that could be pursued without harm to the river. But we don't know if the study will look at those options or only at the water agencies' preferred projects, some of which are along the lines of pie in the sky. Amador Water Agency has about a one-million-dollar reserve, but they want to do a dam enlargement that's likely to cost upwards of $100 million on a river that's already heavily dammed and diverted.

  • State Wild and Scenic opponents have had nearly a year to figure out how state Wild and Scenic designation might affect their future water plans. As far as we know, they haven't even consulted the State Water Resources Control Board, which handles water rights applications in the state. The State Board has a regulation in place for accepting water rights applications for projects above and on tributaries to Wild and Scenic Rivers. The opponents should do some research, not ask for more state spending and yet another state study. On top of that, they really ought to focus on future projects that won't harm the river.