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Sacramento County proposed procedures may reshape the American River Parkway

Marion Millin American River 3
Photo: Marion Millin

Sacramento County’s management of the American River Parkway has had many changes in recent years: budget cuts, staff changes, downsized departments and reduction of park rangers by over 50%. The County Department of Regional Parks is proposing new changes that will impact the experience of the parkway for everyday users, with the potential to damage the natural resources that the County is required to protect.

An important process for public involvement and comment begins this week. On Wednesday, October 30, there will be a public workshop at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sacramento County Regional Parks is taking public comment on their updated Group Activity and Special Events Procedures for the American River Parkway.

These procedures must comply with the American River Parkway Plan. The ARPP was updated and signed into law in 2009, after 4 years of negotiation and 2 years of public review, that cost taxpayers $1,000,000.

The ARPP states that “the American River Parkway is a unique regional asset that shall be managed to balance the goals of controlling flooding; preserving and enhancing native vegetation, native fish species, the naturalistic open space and environmental quality within the urban environment; maintaining and improving water flow and quality; providing adequate habitat connectivity and travel corridors to support migratory and resident wildlife; providing recreational opportunities; and ensuring public safety.”

The proposed changes will allow more intense impacts on a more frequent basis, for uses that are outside the boundaries of the American River Parkway Plan. The shift of priorities in County management will emphasize larger groups using the Parkway in organized activities or special events. These large groups and events will potentially (or literally) impact the everyday, individual or family users of the Parkway, as well as the wildlife.

The Parkway Plan calls for balanced management. The County is missing a key component to make that possible. The missing component is described in the ARPP:

“Management of the Parkway shall ensure the protection of the Parkway’s resources, its environmental quality and natural values. A resource impact monitoring plan shall be developed that clearly defines criteria and standards to monitor, evaluate and protect the Parkway’s resources from overuse, and provides steps to be taken to restore areas that have been overused.”

There is currently no resource impact monitoring plan. Without one, there are no clearly defined criteria and standards to monitor, evaluate and protect the Parkway’s resources from overuse.

The County’s draft plan would allow unprecedented uses and the potential for large-scale, long term impacts on the Parkway and the experience of our urban nature preserve. The public is urged to read the proposed procedures, attend the public meeting and join in the public comment process. The public input and comment period begins this week and will continue through the timeline below.

Oct. 11 – Department of Regional Parks releases a draft Group Activity and Special Event Procedures for public review and input.

Oct. 30 – A public input meeting at Effie Yeaw Nature Center Classroom from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm.

Oct. 31 – Deadline for written comments to the Department of Regional Parks. Send written comments to Amber Veselka at veselkaa@saccounty.net.

Nov. 15 – A final draft of Group Activity and Special Event Procedures will be released for consideration by the American River Parkway Advisory Committee (ARPAC).

Nov. 21 – The final draft is scheduled to go before the Recreation and Park Commission for consideration, pending ongoing public input and recommendations from the ARPAC.

The final draft will be forwarded to County Board of Supervisors for a public hearing to be scheduled.

 

Read the draft Group Activity and Special Event Procedures document at the Sacramento County Regional Parks website.

For more information, contact Betsy Weiland at 488-3894 or flweiland@yahoo.com

Save the American River Association  www.sarariverwatch.org/

Editor’s Note: All instances of “AARP” have been changed to “ARPP” for accuracy. 

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