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June 06, 2006
Stewardship Council ready for comments on land enhancement for Mountain Meadows Reservoir
SUSANVILLE, California (STPNS) -- What is your vision for Mountain Meadows Reservoir, known locally as Walker Lake? The Stewardship Council, in its mission to protect and enhance watershed lands currently owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, wants to know.
Large maps with preliminary concepts for the enhancement of properties within the Feather River Watershed were displayed at a community meeting held in Chester Tuesday, May 30. Maps available for public review included Mountain Meadows Reservoir and Lake Almanor.
People present at the meeting were asked to write their ideas on ways to enhance the property on the map. However, those who missed the meeting can review the maps on the Internet at stewardshipcouncil.org and e-mail, write or telephone their comments.
Elise Holland, land conservation manager for the Stewardship Council, told the audience at the meeting the concepts currently on the maps were ideas staff came up with after reviewing historic use and the existing condition of the land. However, she told the public not to restrict their ideas but to think of the concepts as a wish list ? what might be done to enhance the property if there were no restrictions, monetary or otherwise.
Following a period of public input, the Stewardship Council will revise the concept maps to include suggestions from the general population. Once the preferred conservation alternatives are determined for each area a draft Land Conservation Plan will be presented to the public for refinement. Its expected completion is April 2007.
The preliminary staff concept map developed by the Stewardship Council for the Mountain Meadows Reservoir Planning Unit includes the following:
- Replace the boat ramp at Indian Ole Dam and add a boarding dock as well as day use facilities.
- Assess and add additional public access and day use area on the north shore.
- Restore fencing on east shore to protect wetlands from adjacent grazing and allow for public access at certain points.
- Assess the potential to reinstate low-intensity grazing as a tool for meadow management on the southeast shore.
- Assess the potential for wildlife viewing facilities and facilitate programs on the south shore.
- Protect meadow and fish habitats by assessing water quality and source of pollutants and by working with adjacent property owners.
The stewardship council, which includes a staff of eight professionals and an 18-member board of directors, was assembled in May 2004 to implement a plan for the protection of 140,000 acres of watershed lands for the benefit of current and future generations of Californians as part of the bankruptcy settlement between PG&E and the California Public Utilities Commission.
In 2006 the council and its board of directors are continuing to look at existing conditions on each parcel and determining how to enhance public value. The settlement agreement requires that a broad range of beneficial values be examined including the protection of natural habitat, the preservation of open space, outdoor recreation opportunities, sustainable forestry, agricultural uses and historic and traditional resources.
Once the preferred conservation alternatives are determined for each area the stewardship council will ensure the protection of the land by outright donations to state or local governments and agencies or through conservation easements. Lands that are needed by PG&E for its hydroelectric operations, such as Mountain Meadows Reservoir, will be protected by a conservation easement.
The step following the concept plans will be a filtering process, said Holland. The council will need to determine what can actually be accomplished at each planning unit from a practical, financial and political perspective. For example, at Mountain Meadows Reservoir easements with adjacent landowners may need to be negotiated for public access to the lake.
Following the concept planning the stewardship council will also determine what agency or group will have oversight of the property to ensure the terms of the easement are followed.
However, Holland said currently the focus is on enhancing the properties within the various watershed areas throughout the state of California.
"We see our mission as not dramatically changing these cultures or communities but preserving and enhancing what is there. The only way we can do that enhancement piece is for people to tell us what they want," said Holland.
To contact the Stewardship Council for more information telephone (650) 286-5150 or (866) 791-5150. E-mail messages to: email@example.com.
By Susan Cort Johnson, Westwood Editor
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