hank you for the article on Gov. Brown’s signing Assembly Bill 142 (Bigelow), the Mokelumne River Wild and Scenic study bill.
AB 142 is a good compromise. It provides for a state study to determine whether the Mokelumne should be made a state wild and scenic river, with special attention to water supply and climate issues. It also provides interim protections for the river through the end of 2021 at the latest.
Local water agencies are getting what they asked for in this bill: a new wild and scenic study that takes their concerns into account. Since the agencies and counties want the study, it’s only right for them to pay half the cost. In addition, the bill allows the state to fund other studies for the local water supply options named in the MokeWISE program.
Calaveras County Water District Director Dennis Mills was incorrect when he asserted the Mokelumne will become a wild and scenic river without further action. AB 142’s protections for the Mokelumne will extend no later than the end of 2021. Permanent wild and scenic protection for the river will require additional legislation.
AB 142 had no opposition before its passage, but was supported by diverse interests, including Amador and Calaveras counties, local water agencies (including Calaveras County Water District), the California Farm Bureau Federation, river conservation, fish and recreation organizations. Its final vote in the state Assembly was 74-1, a testimony to author Assemblyman Frank Bigelow’s leadership and skill in crafting a consensus bill nearly everyone could support.