Steve Pettit: The Centennial Dam and reservoir must be stopped |

Steve Pettit: The Centennial Dam and reservoir must be stopped

According to NID Division 2 Director John Drew, the Bear River is an “ephemeral stream” that would be seasonally dry if NID infrastructure were not in place to control and provide a continuous water flow.

Now NID insists it needs yet another dam/reservoir to control this “ephemeral stream.”

Apparently NID feels the existing four dams/reservoirs are not adequate to the task, indicating poor water management expertise at NID. There are other alternatives for water storage NID chooses to ignore or dismiss. It is pure baloney by NID to somehow justify this billion-dollar boondoggle.

John Drew and NID want to flood six miles of pristine Bear River canyon land. They want a mostly empty reservoir scar in the name of water storage. Imagine a 275-foot concrete structure with a 6-mile puny puddle behind it eight out of 10 years. Imagine wasting more than $1 billion, decimating six miles of irreplaceable natural, pristine river canyon beauty and displacing many of your neighbors for the wrong reasons.

Why not make this 13-mile stretch of pristine river canyon a model of preservation of natural beauty?

There are 120 landowners and 25 homes threatened by this proposal. These neighbors are now forced to sell to NID at “locked in” reduced prices. Imagine your property being confiscated for an unnecessary project and you having to move away from family and friends because you cannot buy into the rising market.

I attended a dinner at the Bear River Group Campground on June 19, where many Nisenan Tribe members spoke passionately of their connection to the Bear River. They talked of their tribal culture being passed on to them by parents and grandparents at that very spot. They expressed concern for the numerous Nisenan ancestral burial sites along the river which would be underwater if the Centennial Reservoir becomes a reality. Imagine your grandparents’ burial sites being disregarded, disrespected and flooded for an unneeded dam/reservoir.

I was also very surprised at the size and grandeur of the Group Campsite. The Bear River Park and Campground in Placer County is a precious county resource that deserves to be preserved for everyone to enjoy. This “diamond in the rough” park has been mostly ignored by Placer County and suffers from this lack of attention. Imagine a fully supported park with monitored camping and an expanded trail system as part of the Bear River Recreation Area. This is our park that John Drew and NID want to flood.

Again, I’m asking the Placer County and Nevada County Boards of Supervisors to adopt resolutions to oppose the Centennial Dam and Reservoir. I’m asking the two counties to collaborate and establish a Bear River Recreation Area modeled after Hidden Falls and Auburn State Recreation Area.

John Drew’s idea that fire attack bombardier aircraft would be able to scoop water from the proposed reservoir in this narrow twisting river canyon is laughable. The Hidden Falls strategy for creating a fire break could be applied to the Bear River Recreation Area, thereby increasing our fire safety.

John Drew promises great recreation opportunities with the proposed reservoir. Boating and fishing are great activities that are already available at Rollins Lake. Why not make this 13-mile stretch of pristine river canyon a model of preservation of natural beauty? Why not make it even more accessible for camping, hiking, swimming and rafting? Why not make it the Bear River Recreation Area?

Steve Pettit lives in Auburn.

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