Foothill Conservancy

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On July 21, 2000, Foothill Conservancy, a nonprofit organization based in Amador County, California, was among the parties signing the historic settlement agreement with PG&E that formed the basis for a new 30-year operating license for the Mokelumne River Project. Every nonfederal hydroelectric project in the country operates under license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). As a project's license expires, the licensee begins a relicensing process that generally leads to a new license with updated terms. The new license lasts 30 to 50 years.

The relicensing of PG&E's Mokelumne River Project, (Project 137) which began back in 1972, was the longest such process in FERC history. Meanwhile, PG&E had been running its project, which stretches from Blue Lakes west to Electra Powerhouse, on annual licenses with few requirements for protecting the health of the river or providing river recreation.

The 101-page settlement addresses the ecological and recreation effects of stream flows in all of the river reaches and creeks affected by the project. It balances the needs of the environment, recreation, and power generation. Other parties to the settlement are the California Department of Fish and Game, California Department of Boating and Waterways, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, Friends of the River, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Heritage Institute, and American Whitewater.

The settlement led to the first removal of a PG&E dam in the Sierra Nevada (U.S.) in modern history.

The Foothill Conservancy is now working to secure California Wild and Scenic River designation for the Mokelumne River. That effort was moved forward in 2015 by the passage of Assembly Bill 142, which mandates a state wild and scenic river study of the Mokelumne River and provides interim protections from new dams and diversions.[1]


  • "Managing Watersheds in the New Century," Proceedings of the Eight Biennial Watershed Management Conference 2000 [1]
  • "Collaboration and Adaptive Management for the Mokelumne River Hydroelectric Project" [2]
  • Tim Holt, "Persistence Frees the Mokelumne: River Advocate Pete Bell," High Country News, March 15, 2004 [3]
  • Matt Brown, "Saving the Sierra for Future Generations," Lodi News Sentinel, August 29, 2007 [4]
  • Dana Nichols, "New promise for trout streams; Dam removal helps Sierra sites recover," The (Stockton) Record,December 18, 2006, [5]
  • Environmental Defense, Power Play: The Sale of PG&E's Hydropwer System and the Future of California Rivers [6]
  • Robin Mejia, "From Source to Sink: A River Divided," Terrain Magazine[7]

External links[edit]

  • Foothill Conservancy [8]
  • PG&E Awards [9]
  • California Water Policy Conference Awards [10]