Project 2105 License Group (2105LG) Approved Meeting Summary – October 17, 2003
Call to order: Patti Kroen, Facilitator at 8:30 a.m.
Attendees: See Attachment 1 for list of attendees. Participants approved the October 17, 2003 meeting agenda and approved the summary for the September 29,2003 2105LG meeting. Bob Lambert confirmed that the collaborative was comfortable with posting the FERC submittal (transmittal letter and draft settlement agreement language) on the 2105 Committee web site. He noted that the documents have been posted on the FERC web site and will propose a brief explanation of the documents to be posted with them for review and approval by the 2105LG prior to posting. The Facilitator noted that Eric Theiss with NOAA Fisheries would be late so his presentation would be postponed until he arrives.
Settlement Agreement Section Review and Resolution:
Tom Jereb distributed copies of the package of relicensing settlement agreement letters of support submitted to FERC on October 16, 2003 (Attachment 2).
Technical Review Group (TRG)
Dave Steindorf outlined the concerns the whitewater community has regarding initiation of a TRG for this project. He described the existing processes within the responsible agencies with the ability for the public to appeal any decisions as preferable to continuing unproductive discussions with the same interests that are unlikely to produce agreements. Dave suggested that given their Rock Creek-Cresta ERC experience, the whitewater community would rather put their confidence in the agencies then expend the time and incur the expense of participation in the TRG as currently described in the draft document. Michael Condon noted the shift in thinking by the Forest Service on the subject of whitewater flows as an example of how a collaborative can help find compromise solutions stakeholders can live with. He clarified that an existing process for public input no longer is part of the Forest Service (FS) actions so a TRG would provide an important forum for technical and local stakeholder discussions. He agreed that they are still learning how to ask the right questions on Rock Creek-Cresta however he believes the ERC has worked well in that instance and the decisions are better than if the FS had made them without the ERC input. He added that the collaborative approach might provide the bridge needed to reach a compromise between differing agency mandates while the elimination of a TRG might cause the process to appear closed. Bill Dennison agreed that volunteer groups have some problems with funding but still considers them viable mechanisms for public and local participation. Sharon Stohrer agreed on the value of a TRG and expressed the desire to have experts at the table as well as local stakeholders. She suggested the 2105LG consider peer review within the structure of the TRG with specialists consulted on an as-needed basis to provide technical expertise.
The 2105LG discussed what role the TRG would have in decision-making and agreed that an advisory role was preferable. Sharon reiterated the need for the TRG to consult with experts in specific technical disciplines when appropriate, funded by the licensee. Stuart Running noted that experts often disagree within their disciplines and PG&E has committed to a monitoring program involving experts within the company and consultants to the company to inform the TRG. Dave Steindorf clarified that the whitewater community wants a productive process that informs the agency decision. He is comfortable with a TRG that is designed to develop data for agency decision but wants to avoid a situation where stakeholders thwart the collaborative process as a means to block actions. Mike Meinz clarified that the TRG would make decisions on some things such as test flows and calendar scheduling as the article is currently written. Sharon suggested that the TRG would need to make some recommendations but would largely inform the agencies. Regarding the question of funding for stakeholder participation in the TRG, Tom Jereb responded that PG&E daily receives requests for funding and cannot accommodate the whitewater community’s request to fund participation or travel expenses.
The 2105LG discussed participation in the TRG and John Gangemi offered that the TRG should be composed of signatories to the settlement agreement. Harry Williamson agreed and noted that new members could petition to be included after the fact similar to the procedure in use at Rock Creek-Cresta where new stakeholders must be approved by unanimous consent of the ERC. The meetings would be open to observation by the public. Michael Condon pointed out that the purpose of the TRG is to implement the settlement agreement so if a stakeholder is not in support of the agreement, they would find it difficult to support its implementation. Sharon Stohrer suggested using the language contained in the Rock Creek-Cresta settlement regarding membership. The 2105LG discussed the need for a facilitator and agreed that the ERC is currently functioning without one so the TRG should make the decision on need. The 2105LG discussed establishment of a fund to allow limited use of a facilitator as appropriate and a cap of twice per year and determined that the TRG should make the request for a facilitator if they feel it is necessary, similar to a request for technical expertise or peer review. Michael Condon suggested that the protocols have all been established for Rock Creek-Cresta ERC and the language could be used if the scope is changed to suit this project.
John Gangemi noted that American Whitewater has additional issues for discussion but since his edited version of the flow article didn’t reach all stakeholders he suggested the discussion be continued at the next meeting. Dave Steindorf added that revised language would be provided in advance of the next meeting if possible.
Steve Schoenberg reviewed his concerns expressed during the last meeting regarding flow quantities and justifications for decisions on lake levels. He explained that his review of the data doesn’t support the recommendations and the FWS need for adequate quantified information in order to support the flows. He also expressed concern that the Rock Creek-Cresta settlement is becoming the model for all others and it may not be appropriate here. The 2105LG discussed the socioeconomic drivers and environmental information related to lake level considered by the LAWLAF when determining flows. Steve noted that no environmental analysis has been conducted and Sharon Stohrer confirmed that NEPA analysis would be conducted by FERC and in fact the initiation of that process is responsible for the deadline that must be met by this collaborative to submit an alternative for evaluation. Michael Condon noted that the 2105LG had come together voluntarily to reach a negotiated settlement and was very close to reaching their goal to submit a proposal to FERC for evaluation in their environmental document. LAWLAF participants suggested that FWS comments are late and difficult to incorporate into a proposal at this time and expressed concern that if the process goes backward to re-open negotiations, the 2105LG will not achieve their goal. Some stakeholders may choose not to sign the settlement agreement but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t move forward. Sharon added that FWS could submit their own flow proposal for consideration by FERC as an alternative within this traditional process. Mike Meinz reviewed the early steps that the LAWLAF took before FWS became involved to create attribute tables as guidelines and rationale for the flows proposed and stated that DFG would prepare 10(j) recommendations in support of the settlement agreement flows. Steve noted the internal Department of Interior deadline of November 5th for development of 10(j) recommendations. Steve reiterated his need for answers and Tom Jereb offered to bring his staff to Steve’s office to respond to his questions. Steve agreed to meet with Tom and staff to discuss information needs.
Wayne Dyok reported that Plumas County’s attorney has reviewed and provided comments for consideration. He characterized the changes are minor and agreed to forward them to PG&E for inclusion with comments made by DFG and FS. PG&E will distribute the redline/strikeout version incorporating all of the proposed changes to the 2105LG for concurrence.
Eric Theiss presented a proposal for fish passage within the Feather River drainage. He explained that only 2,000 Chinook salmon are left and he proposes to move 500 of them upstream of the Oroville Dam in an effort to reintroduce the species to habitat available in the upstream tributaries and reaches of the Feather River. He reviewed a map indicating potential salmon habitat upstream of Oroville Reservoir and suggested that fish trucked and released near the Lime Saddle area of Lake Oroville would find their way upstream and utilize this habitat. The 2105LG discussed the potential for the fish to survive and Mike Meinz asked if NOAA intended to ignore state fishery management activities underway in those reaches. Eric responded that the salmon are native fish to the reaches and the intention is to recover the species by allowing them to access historically available habitat. Wayne Dyok pointed out that NOAA would have a fish passage reservation in the license and Eric responded that NOAA wants the studies conducted to evaluate habitat and potential passage structures and intends to oppose the settlement agreement unless they get what they want. Tom Jereb asked if Eric could provide any cost/benefit information relative to his proposal and Eric responded that the profits made by PG&E through the use of a public resource are greater than the cost of these activities. Mike Meinz informed Eric that DFG would respond in writing if NOAA actively opposes the settlement. Plumas County respectfully requested Eric to at least not oppose the negotiated settlement, even if he cannot support it without the inclusion of the proposal to reintroduce salmon at this time.
A proposal for a Maidu cultural center was delivered during the meeting and distributed to the 2105LG (Attachment 3). The 2105LG agreed to review the proposal and add a discussion to the agenda for the next 2105LG meeting.
The LAWLAF participants discussed the need to complete discussions on some ‘loose’ fish issues and agreed to meet on November 7th (and 14th if necessary) to discuss the topics outlined in Mike Taylor’s October 15, 2003 e-mail (Attachment 4). The meeting location will be either Sacramento or Davis.
Draft Recreation Management Article Review:
John Mintz distributed the documents e-mailed in advance to the 2105LG and explained that he had been tasked with looking for ways to reduce the total package dollar amount to accommodate the additional requests discussed at the previous meeting. The 2105LG discussed the ceiling amount of $24 million and how it was tied to a 30-year recreation plan while the licensee has asked for a 50-year license in its application. Sharon Stohrer reminded the participants that the term for the Rock Creek-Cresta license was adjusted to coincide with the expiration of this new license to enable a watershed approach to analysis. Michael Condon noted that the EDAW study results were analyzed assuming a 30-year base but the FS could support a longer license if their proposal for $5 million in improvements and facilities and a 60/40 split with the FS was incorporated. Bill Dennison suggested that there is not a sound basis for the $24 million recreation facility cap and that will be determined by need for facilities. If it is appropriate for the licensee to set the amount and needed facilities, there is no need for discussions within the 2105LG. Further, if the ceiling for recreational spending by PG&E was appropriate that should be raised to $32 million for the additional 10 years that comes with a 40-year license.
The 2105LG first reviewed the summary of additional UNFFR Recreation Proposals by Stakeholders (Attachment 5). PG&E confirmed that bear boxes were intended for all campsites and the FS explained the part of their proposal would address a concern they have for impacts to resources by relocating group camper use that currently occurs in an overflow area to organized new group campsites. The FS confirmed that the $5 million dollars represents 40% contribution from PG&E to be expended within 10 years of license issuance. FS would retain ownership of the facilities but PG&E would assume operation and maintenance costs after five years. PG&E could collect fees that they set to recover operational and maintenance costs.
The Lake Almanor East Shore Trail was discussed and Plumas County suggested considering a gravel/clay base to reduce the total cost to $300,000 without any matching funds. The 2105LG agreed that this is a high priority item to be completed within the first five years of the license. Ownership of the land proposed for the Belden Reach whitewater put-in and take-out facilities was discussed. The put-in appears to be on the PG&E spoils pile while the take-out could be near Belden Town, perhaps to the advantage of the businesses located there or further downstream near a campground. The FS described the need for a ranger within the canyon and suggested that funding might be split between the 2105 license and the up-coming Poe license.
The 2105LG reviewed the Lake Almanor Family and Group Campsite Development Options chart (Attachment 6) prepared by John Mintz. He explained that the chart was developed to evaluate how the camping needs and proposed additions might be accommodated under six different options. The chart includes the pros and cons of each option. There was concern that the group sites identified in the Almanor Campground should not be counted as ‘new’ because they are simply relocations of existing camper use. It was unclear how the overflow use was counted during recreation use surveys. While the exact numbers on the chart were questioned the group agreed that the chart provided some relative information on options that could be considered. However it was noted that the current proposed recreation plan has been worked out over a three-year period and several stakeholders expressed discomfort with making any changes that would result in reduction of facilities. Plumas County confirmed their desire to retain the Eastshore campground in the recreation plan.
The 2105LG reviewed the summary of costs for UNFFR license application proposals and reduction approach (Attachment 7) line-by-line and agreed to adjustments resulting in a reduction of $2.96 million. John Mintz will revise the chart and provide the revised reduction approach to the 2105LG and Tom Jereb. Tom will present the trimmed budget to upper management in an effort to convince them to raise the recreation ceiling to accommodate the additional proposals. Plumas County reiterated their belief that if the license term is extended to 40 years, the ceiling should be adjusted to a minimum of $32 million.
Sharon Stohrer distributed a letter from the SWRCB in response to a letter received from the Anglers Committee regarding whitewater flow management on California rivers (Attachment 8) as information only. The 2105LG agreed that their next meeting would include those agenda items not covered today due to time constraints. This includes discussion on settlement language related to safety, wildlife and land use/aesthetics, and discussion on the issue of oversight for the license. The agenda will also include discussion of the boilerplate revisions, the flow proposal from the whitewater community, the Maidu proposal and an update on the water quality article. The next meeting of the 2105LG was scheduled for October 23rd from 8:30 – 4:00 at the Holiday Inn in Chico.
q Action Item 77: Bob Lambert will provide brief summary of documents to be posted on 2105 web site for approval of 2105LG.
Due Date: October 23, 2003
q Action Item 78: PG&E will revise the flow language related to formation of a TRG to include relevant membership language from the Rock Creek-Cresta settlement agreement and other protocol language as appropriate based on 2105LG discussion. Whitewater community will provide proposed revisions to the document for consideration in advance of the next meeting if possible.
Due Date: October 23, 2003.
q Action Item 79: PG&E staff will meet with FWS to resolve information needs.
Due Date: October 23, 2003.
q Action Item 80: Wayne Dyok will provide suggested revisions to the boilerplate language to PG&E for incorporation into a redline/strikeout version that includes comments from FS and DFG. Revised version will be distributed to the 2105LG for concurrence.
Due Date: October 23, 2003.
q Action Item 81: Review Maidu proposal for discussion at next 2105LG meeting.
Due Date: October 23, 2003.
q Action Item 82: LAWLAF to meet and discuss remaining ‘loose’ fish issues.
Due Date: November 7, with and additional meeting on November 14 if necessary.
q Action Item 83: John Mintz will revise budget chart to incorporate the reductions and provide to 2105LG. Tom Jereb will take trimmed recreation budget to upper management for consideration of additional funding.
Due Date: October 23, 2003.
Upcoming 2105LG meeting date and location:
October 23 2105LG Holiday Inn Chico, 8:30am-4:00pm.
Attachment 1: List of Attendees
Michael Condon USFS
Bill Dennison Plumas County Supervisor
Wayne Dyok MWH
John Gangemi American Whitewater
Robert Hughes CDFG
Tom Hunter Plumas County
Tom Jereb PG&E
Patti Kroen Kroen
Bob Lambert 2105 Committee
Bruce McGurk PG&E
Mike Meinz CDFG
John Mintz PG&E
Sue Norman USFS
Stu Running PG&E
Steven Schoenberg USFWS
Aaron Seandel 2105 Committee
Dave Steindorf Chico Paddleheads
Sharon Stohrer SWRCB
Mike Taylor USFS
Eric Theiss NOAA Fisheries
Harry Williamson NPS
Attachment 2: Package of Relicensing Settlement Agreement Letters of Support sent to FERC October 16, 2003 (Hardcopy available by request)
Attachment 3: Maidu Proposal (Hardcopy available on request)
Attachment 4: Mike Taylor E-Mail on Upper North Fork Loose Fish Considerations (hardcopy available on request)
Attachment 5: Additional UNFFR Recreation Proposals by Stakeholders (hardcopy available on request)
Attachment 6: Lake Almanor Family and Group Campsite Development Options (hardcopy available on request)
Attachment 7: UNFFR License Application Recreation Proposals and Reduction Approach (hardcopy available on request)
Attachment 8: Letter from SWRCB in response to letter from Anglers Committee Regarding Whitewater Flow Management on California Rivers (hardcopy available on request)