El Dorado County River Management Advisory Committee


Background

Three government agencies have jurisdiction on the South Fork of the American River. Most of the public land belongs to the Bureau of Land Management (the thee lunch spots with Phoenix toilets, for example). Marshall Gold and the Folsom Reservoir take-out points are California State Parks. The rest is El Dorado County.

Recreational river use on the South Fork has a quirky history (this is a huge simplification for the sake of brevity), and as a result of that quirky history, El Dorado County is the Governing Agency for the river. This is an unusual arrangement, and it is probably unique that a county manages a river like this. El Dorado County began managing the river in 1980, and established its first River Management Plan in 1984. The plan has been revised several times, most recently in 2001.

The River Management Plan designates three types of trips: commercial, non-commercial, and institutional. (Non-commercial trips are further split into "large" and regular(?) sizes.) ICO is one of seven Institutional groups. For the most part, institutional groups have been unregulated, especially compared to commercial outfitters.

The River Management Plan establishes a maximum carrying capacity on the river. That is, the maximum numbers of boats that can go down the river in a period of time. Currently, the maximum carrying capacity is set at 300 boats in two-hours. Boats are counted at Fowler's Rock and Troublemaker Rapids. If the carrying capacity is ever exceed, additional river regulations take effect, largely at the expense of commercial outfitters.

What's happening now and how this affects ICO

There are two primary areas of concern:
  1. The South Fork is nearing its established carrying capacity. According to Noah (the River Ranger), the count is regularly 270 boats per two-hour period, and one occasion was 297 boats in a two-hour period.
  2. El Dorado County is looking for other sources of revenue
    1. This is likely a result of the economic recession (meaning less property taxes) and a prolonged trend in less commercial rafting (meaning less commercial rafting usage fees). Additionally, the County and many of the commercial outfitters believe that Institutional groups should contribute financially to managing the river.

In order to address both of these issues, El Dorado County wants to more rigorously regulate the Institutional groups. This likely means the introduction of new river usage fees, river usage restrictions, and guide compliance requirements.

The River Management Advisory Committee (RMAC) has been proactive in seeking input and feedback from Institutional groups and other stakeholders about the potential new regulations. There was an initial meeting in June 2010 with poor attendance from Institutional groups. There were two other meetings in August 2011 and October 2011 to discuss the first draft of specific policy items which had excellent attendance form ICO. Additionally, some Institutional groups met in September 2011 to discuss some of the more challenging issues, such as usage limitations and allocations, in detail.

A new round of discussion began this Fall 2012 centering around a second draft of the discussion document. There was a meeting in September 2012 for this purpose.

The timeline for these new regulations to be finalized and implemented is unknown. First the RMAC must draft the actual language, converting from the principles outlined in the discussion document. Once that is done, the RMAC will probably initiate another round of public comment. Ultimately the new policies must be approved by the county Board of Supervisors, not the RMAC. It is probable that the regulations will be in effect for the 2015 season.

"Thanks, but No Thanks"

These changes have been in development for several years now, and the RMAC is adamant that it is well too late to discard the whole plan and start over. In fact, there are already regulations in place as part of the 2001 River Management Plan that will affect Institutional groups such as ICO if the carrying capacity is ever exceeded.


Commercial Outfitter Point of View

Here is the Commercial Outfitter point-of-view, expressed by Nate Rangel, owner of Adventure Connection and President of California Outdoors.


Meetings


What can we do to help in the mean time?

In addition to attending the meetings above to represent the interests of ICO, you can...
  1. Avoid the Gorge on Saturdays.
  2. If you must do the Gorge on Saturday, put in late. Arrive at Fowler's Rock no earlier than 3:00pm.
  3. Strictly obey the Quiet Zone.
    1. This bothers the land owners most of all, and they can and do complain to the county and the River Ranger.
  4. Keep a low profile. Be as inconspicuous as possible.
    1. Take as little space as possible at put-in and take-out
    2. Put your rafts in the water at the last possible moment before you launch.
      1. Keeping the rafts in the water for 1-2 hours before you push-off is impolite if the put-in is busy.
    3. Boat safely. Don't screw around.
    4. If you're not keeping a brisk pace, let other groups pass. (Don't wait or expect them to ask permission, 'cuz they won't.)
Follow these guidelines even on your private trips.

Links

El Dorado County

ċ
2010 Institutional Usage Summay 20110725.pdf
(14k)
Ryan Clark,
Sep 19, 2012, 10:53 AM
ċ
2010DraftRiverProgramAnnualReport.pdf
(737k)
Ryan Clark,
Aug 29, 2011, 8:28 PM
ċ
8-22-2011RMACAgenda.pdf
(36k)
Ryan Clark,
Aug 29, 2011, 8:27 PM
Ċ
Ryan Clark,
Sep 10, 2012, 8:14 AM
ċ
CommercialLetter.pdf
(79k)
Ryan Clark,
Oct 2, 2011, 8:07 PM
Ċ
Ryan Clark,
Jun 12, 2014, 9:23 PM
ċ
InstitutionalDiscussionDoc20110725.pdf
(97k)
Ryan Clark,
Sep 10, 2012, 8:26 AM
Ċ
Ryan Clark,
Sep 10, 2012, 8:26 AM
ċ
InstitutionalMeetingNotes20110926.pdf
(23k)
Ryan Clark,
Sep 28, 2011, 8:21 AM
Ċ
Ryan Clark,
Jun 12, 2014, 9:23 PM
Ċ
Ryan Clark,
Jun 19, 2014, 7:59 AM
Ċ
Ryan Clark,
Jun 12, 2014, 9:23 PM
Comments