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Water politics at play on the McCloud River  

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In his famous poem “The Song of The River,” William Randolph Hearst described the anatomy of the river that runs off the south side of Mt. Shasta and eventually flows to the sea. 

This was when he was living at his place along the McCloud River called Wyntoon in 1941.  He and many others in earlier days loved and prized the McCloud River for its fantastic wild beauty and the wonderful trout fishing it provided.   If he was aware of what things have happened to the river, he might turn over in his grave.

Just recently, Damon Arthur wrote an excellent article in the Redding Record Searchlight about the the proposal to raise Shasta Dam and its impact upon the McCloud River. 

Presently the McCloud is classified as a wild and scenic river.  There are also Winnemem and Wintu sacred sites that would be covered should the dam be raised. The McCloud is divided into two sections.  The Upper McCloud is popular to fishing and occasional kayakers. There are campgrounds and upper and lower waterfalls.

The upper area ends at Lake McCloud and a dam built by PG&E.

On the lower McCloud below the dam, there is a Nature Conservancy section that was a gift from the neighboring (downstream) McCloud River Club.  The Conservancy allows ten rods per day fishing and unlimited access to hikers or bird watching.

For years, the lower sections of the McCloud River were owned by two fishing clubs.  The McCloud River Club, with about four miles of river and the Bollibokka Club, with 10 miles reaching down to the arm of Shasta Lake.  These two clubs were formed by wealthy San Francisco founding families starting around the early 1900s. 

Recently, anglers and nature lovers learned Bollibokka was sold to the Westlands Water District.  Anglers are not allowed to set a foot above the high water mark on either property.

So now it looks like the Westlands Water District and the Metropolitan Water District are carrying out a water hustling scheme through this control then proposing to raise Shasta Dam.  It’s a not too popular proposal to the people of the north state who believe the north ships  enough water to the south.

While proponents of raising Shasta Dam advocate that it would benefit steelhead and salmon, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife disagree with that theory.  Most salmon spawn in the fall and winter when the flows from the Dam are reduced.   The high volume water releases are mostly in the summer time when water deliveries are due. The Sacramento river system already delivers, via the California Aqueduct in 444 miles, 2.6 million acre-feet of water from the north to the southern California area. 

This does not include, the Delta Mendota Canal, Colorado River Aqueduct, Los Angeles Aqueduct (all of the Owens River), Madera Canal, and the San Diego Aqueduct, just to name a few.

It is well-known original brood stock for planted rainbow trout came from the McCloud strain.   There was a population of Dolly Varden trout but they disappeared when the McCloud PG&E Dam was built and blocked off their spawning grounds.   Rainbow and brown trout flourish in the beautiful waters of the McCloud.  It will be interesting to see how things work out.


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