Forests Forever Action Alerts


Blue oak/gray pine habitat threatened by proposed dam

Tell Gov. Schwarzenegger and Sen. Feinstein to scrap the project!

The scenic San Joaquin River gorge above Millerton Lake in the southern Sierra Nevada foothills is in danger of being dammed. A new dam upstream from the existing Friant Dam would inundate some 7,000 acres of blue oak woodlands, severely impacting the ecosystem.

The dam would also wipe out Native American historical sites as well as extensive recreation areas including river rapids enjoyed by white-water enthusiasts.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein are pushing the Temperance Flat dam project as part of the governor's “Strategic Growth Plan”for California.

Let the governor and senator know that new dams in California are unnecessary since water conservation and recycling can effectively meet the state's needs. The dams would exacerbate the already precarious hold of the state's native blue oak/gray pine habitat.

The landscape of the proposed dam is one of rolling foothills supporting blue oak and gray pines. It is an ecological transition zone from the great Central Valley to the Sierra Nevada.

The woodlands are extremely rich in animal species and provide breeding, wintering, and migratory stopover habitat for many kinds of wildlife. Mule deer, quail, band-tailed pigeons, waterfowl, cottontail rabbits, gray squirrels, and mourning dove thrive in the habitat.

Spice bush, California poppies, owl's clover, milkweed, lupine, purple pagodas, yellow coreopsis and azaleas grow wild across the terrain.

“"Blue oak woodlands are a signature landscape of California,” says Sarah Graber in “"Conservation Planning for Blue Oak Woodlands in the Southern Sierra Foothills,"”a research paper submitted in 2007 to the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at U.C. Santa Barbara. “"Endemic to the state, blue oaks live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and the lower slopes of the Coast Ranges."”

Graber notes that each year more than 30,000 acres of oak woodlands are converted for residential and commercial uses, endangering some 92 species of birds including the federally protected bald and golden eagles.

The Temperance Flat dam's environmental impacts must be considered in light of the Oak Woodlands Protection Act of 2004, which was signed into law by Schwarzenegger and strongly backed by Forests Forever.

The dam would impact Millerton State Recreational Area (operated by the California Department of Parks and Recreation) and the San Joaquin River Gorge Recreational Area (operated by the US Bureau of Land Management). The dam would also impact the San Joaquin River Trail, which extends from Millerton Lake over the crest of the Sierra Nevada to Devil's Postpile National Monument and Mammoth Mountain.

Forests Forever urges you to write to Schwarzenegger and Feinstein to let them know you think the era of major new dams in California is over. Tell them the needs of the environment and recreation should come first. Reiterate the threat to the blue oak woodlands, and tell them you would like to see that habitat preserved for all the species that rely on it. Urge them adopt improved and expanded water conservation and recycling as better ways of handling the state's water needs.

Write to them at:

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160 ( new number )

Senator Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3841
Fax: (202) 228-3954
TTY/TDD: (202) 224-2501


Forests Forever:
Their Ecology, Restoration, and Protection
John J. Berger

from Forests Forever Foundation
and the Center for American Places