Project 2105 License Group (2105LG) Approved Meeting Summary – April 24, 2003
Call to order: Patti Kroen, Facilitator at 9 a.m.
Attendees: See Attachment 1 for list of attendees. The meeting was held in Westwood and attendees included residents and interested members of the public. Participants approved the April 24, 2003 meeting agenda and the April 10, 2003 meeting summary. Revisions to the March 27, 2003 meeting summary suggested by Sharon Stohrer with the SWRCB related to macroinvertebrate studies and the sharing of data between the Rock Creek-Cresta ERC and the 2105LG were discussed. The participants agreed to reflect the revisions in the summary and indicate that the statements were made by SWRCB to avoid confusion. The meeting summary was approved.
The Facilitator asked if she could provide the meeting summary attachments that include the handouts provided at the meeting upon request instead of as attachments to the meeting summaries distributed via e-mail. The group agreed that the attachment header pages would still be included in the summaries with the name of the document referenced on the page but the full document would only be provided on request.
The facilitator reviewed action items yet to be completed. PG&E is investigating easements through private property within Section 17 near Westwood to gain access to PG&E property for recreation use. PG&E reported that the response from the private landowner has not been encouraging to date. Plumas County has nearly completed a formal response to the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between PG&E and Plumas County Sheriff and should have the MOU ready to present at the May 8, 2003 2105LG meeting. Plumas County, PG&E, USFS and SWRCB are scheduled to provide a proposed water quality monitoring plan amendment at the May 22, 2003 2105LG meeting.
PG&E intends to meet with a subgroup of interested participants to discuss transferability of data between Rock Creek Cresta and Belden Reach after the Rock Creek Cresta ERC gets a little further along in their discussions of the data. Plumas County will arrange for a meeting between the County, PG&E and the gravel operator to discuss the marina and channel-dredging concept.
PG&E is looking at the proposed Seneca reach scenarios and considering lake level, power production, and water temperature and the LAWLAF Subcommittee continues to craft flow scenarios focusing next on Belden and Lower Butt Valley. The subcommittee is also drafting a document that should provide a framework and language for the ultimate agreement crafted by 2105LG for submittal to FERC.
Proposed language for inclusion in the Shoreline Management Plan is being reviewed by Plumas County and the County plans to meet with PG&E to formalize suggested revisions, including the supplemental aquatic habitat data requests submitted by CSPA.
Tom Jereb with PG&E began the discussion of the Hamilton Branch Development Amendment by explaining that the Federal Bankruptcy court currently hearing the PG&E case may rule that the Hamilton Branch must be licensed as a requirement of the reorganization plan. If required to license the facility, PG&E would prefer to amend the 2105 license to include the Hamilton Branch Development rather than license the facility as a stand-alone project and thus, potentially subject it to competition. PG&E expects the bankruptcy court to rule within a few months, at which time PG&E will decide if the Hamilton Branch Amendment to the 2105 License will be filed.
PG&E then presented a summary of the information contained within the Draft Amendment to Application for New License for the Upper North Fork Feather River Hydroelectric Project to add the Hamilton Branch Development distributed April 11, 2003. Tom noted the document has a 90-day review period and comments should be sent to him by July 11, 2003.
The 23,900 acre-foot Mountain Meadows Reservoir was created in 1924 with construction of the 26-foot high Indian Ole Dam. The surface area at full pool is approximately 5700 acres. The reservoir is very shallow and storage can drop to 1700 acre-feet in a dry year. Releases from the reservoir are diverted from the Hamilton Branch at the Hamilton Branch Diversion Dam approximately 2 miles downstream from Indian Ole Dam. The 200-cfs capacity diversion canal is a little over three miles long and carries water to the Hamilton Branch Powerhouse. Two other diversion dams located on Clear Creek and the Hamilton Branch at Red Bridge provide additional flow to the canal. Generation facilities at the powerhouse have a normal operating capacity of 4.8 MW and a 60,000kv line serves the local community. Current operations are governed by a 1989 agreement negotiated with DFG that provides for minimum in-stream flow releases. In 1996 conservation enhancements included fences to protect waterfowl habitat and nesting islands. PG&E agreed to provide copies of the various operating agreements related to Hamilton Branch to the 2105LG participants.
Mike Fry summarized the wildlife and vegetation resources and noted that many bird species in the project area are doing well under current management strategies and showing population increases over the last few years. He discussed bald eagle nesting, the great blue heron rookery and described dense colonies of other fish-eating birds. He said some flooding of nests may occur but indications are that the current populations are healthy and reflect effective management.
Willow flycatcher habitat occurs on the north and northeast shorelines of the reservoir and along the Hamilton Branch but no birds were located. The Sandhill crane population has been rebounding with 50 colts (young) counted in the southern portion of the reservoir. They are not adversely affected by grazing in forage areas but may lose nesting sites to cows grazing near shore. The 2105LG discussed management options such as fencing out cattle from shoreline emergent riparian vegetation. Land ownership patterns around the reservoir influence the management options available. It was noted that Humbug Valley has new Sandhill crane use.
PG&E reported on historic and recent data on wetlands and waterfowl production. The project area appears to be very good seasonal habitat but production is poor. Island sites tend to be subjected to extensive erosion and are difficult to repair and maintain however predator-proof goose nests appear to be gaining use. Anecdotal data suggests that waterfowl adjust their nesting schedule according to historical lake levels and shoreline sites appear to be adversely impacted by cattle grazing. The participants discussed the adverse and beneficial impacts from cattle grazing. PG&E stated that their intention is to discontinue grazing leases on PG&E properties within one year of license issuance however this would not preclude grazing on adjacent lands.
Mike Fry summarized the carnivore studies and indicated that while Sierra red fox generally occur at higher elevations, the project area is home to bobcats, raccoons, coyotes, and grey fox. Mountain Meadows Conservancy indicated they have documented sightings of pine martin tracks and will forward the information to PG&E. PG&E also surveyed project structures for sensitive bat species however the reservoir area has no roost sites or critical forage habitat.
Mike described deer use in the project area and explained the use of a ‘step-out’ deer escape structure designed to assist a deer that has fallen into the canal. Since 1981, five escapes and 12 reinforced, soil-surfaced deer crossings have been installed on canals in the project area, greatly reducing deer mortality.
Stu Running with PG&E summarized the aquatic resources information collected on Hamilton Branch and described the methodology used to survey the stream populations. He reported that rainbow and brown trout were present at all sample sites with rainbow trout most abundant in the areas downstream of the Hamilton diversion. Brown trout were less abundant at all sites but appear to be concentrated between Clear Creek and the Hamilton Branch Diversion Dam. Bullheads, suckers and pumpkinseed were sampled in Mountain Meadows Reservoir.
PG&E is conducting additional fish tissue analysis for mercury and silver at the request of the regional water quality control board. DWR is also conducting studies in Lake Almanor for these metals thought to be associated with historic mining and cloud seeding activities.
PG&E amphibian surveys found poor breeding and rearing habitat for sensitive species such as foothill yellow-legged frog, pond turtle, cascades frog, and mountain yellow-legged frog. PG&E also reported on results of mollusk surveys, instream flow analysis, and creel surveys.
PG&E summarized the geomorphic information contained within the amendment application including an assessment of the hydrology of the project and analysis of results from studies covering large woody debris, gravel recruitment and transport, and sediment incipient motion studies. The operation of the project has reduced springtime flows and augmented summertime flows in the reach of the river between Indian Ole Dam and the Hamilton Diversion Dam. The project has also reduced the frequency and duration of peak flow events.
Water Quality – chemistry, temperature and modeling
PG&E summarized the water quality information contained in the amendment application including water chemistry, temperature measurements and modeling efforts. Nine stations were sampled and tested for nutrients, metals, and minerals. Iron, manganese and mercury were found in inflows and are not considered project related. Total and fecal coliform measurements in inflow were high and may reflect the cattle grazing or other wildlife influence (e.g. large geese population concentrated in one location). Additional information will be collected on dissolved oxygen, temperature profiles and total mercury.
The temperature model, called SNTEMP is being used to predict temporal and spatial variability in temperatures in Hamilton Branch. The model input includes instream flows and hydrologic conditions describing normal, dry, or critically dry year types and various meteorological information. July temperatures above the cold-water inflow from Walker Spring are typically 22ºC. so the diversion improves the warm water to cold water ratio with accretion downstream. Results indicate that the Hamilton Branch would not benefit from a change in operations. Inflow to Lake Almanor would remain the same.
John Mintz with PG&E summarized a number of recreation studies conducted including a regional supply analysis, facility condition assessment, impact assessment, shoreline access assessment, demand analysis, including a questionnaire and involving public focus groups, capacity and suitability analysis and a needs analysis. He identified two developed facilities: 1) the DFG Hamilton Branch Fishing Access and 2) the boat ramp on Indian Ole Dam and described Mountain Meadows reservoir as primitive with limited boat access and Hamilton Branch as dispersed camping used primarily by hunters and anglers. Public input supports maintaining the primitive nature of the recreation setting. Primary recreation use includes fishing, waterfowl hunting, wildlife and scenic viewing, boating, educational use, hiking, and biking.
PG&E noted that access is difficult because of the private land surrounding the reservoir but reported that negotiations continue to secure an easement for public access. Lassen County stated they had prepared a planning document that should be considered by PG&E and noted coordination needs that should be addressed. For example if PG&E needs to limit boating use in a particular area on the reservoir to protect an ESA species, PG&E would need to coordinate with the County who has responsibility for enforcement of boating restrictions on the reservoir. PG&E mentioned that it intends to phase out ATV, snowmobile, and motorcycle use on PG&E lands.
Lynn Compos with PG&E summarized the results of cultural resource survey work in the project area. None of the historic era sites appears to be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and the pre-historic sites would require sub-surface testing to evaluate for eligibility. The tribes have requested that the sites be treated as eligible and prefer a management strategy focused on preservation and education. The participants discussed the desire for educational and interpretive signage as well as enforcement of county ordinances and educational programs.
The Facilitator reminded the participants that the 2105LG meeting needed to end at 3:00pm so that the noticed public meeting could begin however she invited anyone with questions to continue the discussion as PG&E conducts a public meeting on the amendment application.
She reminded participants that the next 2105LG meeting is scheduled for May 8 in Chico. The agenda is expected to include an update from LAWLAF on a document template and preliminary flow scenario modeling results. PG&E stated that FERC has scheduled their 2105 Project scoping tour for May 20-21, 2003 with an evening scoping meeting in Chester on May 20.
q Action Item 22: PG&E will provide copies of the various operating agreements related to Hamilton Branch to the 2105LG participants.
Due Date: May 22, 2003
Upcoming 2105LG meeting dates and topics are as follows:
Date Location Topics
May 22 Chico From LAWLAF subcommittee:
1. Belden Reach and lower Butt Valley flow scenarios
From Water Quality subcommittee:
2. Draft proposal for water quality monitoring and coordination
From Shoreline subcommittee:
3. Text revisions to proposed SMP
From Recreation subcommittee:
4. Text revisions to RMP
5. MOU between Plumas County Public Works and PG&E
Attachment 1: List of Attendees
Joe Bertotti County of Lassen
Arick Biggs WHS student
Fred Binswanger Westwood Chamber of Commerce
Carrol C. Bollinger MMC
Wayne Clegg Almanor Fishing Assoc. Creekside Property Owners
Laurie Davis MMC
Wayne Dyok MWH
Elizabeth Frantz PG&E
Mike Fry PG&E
Christi Goodman Plumas County
Don Hansen Roseburg Resources
Robert Hughes DFG
Tom Hunter Plumas County
Tom Jereb PG&E
Bill Kerns Land Owner, Almanor Assoc.
Patti Kroen Kroen
Len Lindstrand W.M. Beaty & Associates
Ron Lunder MMC
Mike Mally PG&E
Mike Meinz DFG
Jerry Mensch CSPA
John Mintz PG&E
Gary Pritchard Westwood resident
Jeff Pudlicki W.M. Beaty & Associates
Bob Pyle Lassen County Supervisor
Judy Robinson MMC
Steve Robinson MMC
Stuart Running PG&E
Aaron Seandel 2105 Comm.
Sharon Stohrer SWRCB
Scott Tu PG&E
Allen Vaughan MMC
Janet Walther PG&E
Jennifer Ward Westwood High School Agriculture Instructor