Foothills Water Network

Collaborative Groups and Governmental Agencies

Following is an overview of the principal collaborative groups and governmental agencies (apart from public water agencies) involved in issues related to the Bear River watershed.  Individual contact information can be found in the accompanying contact list.  For additional information, see the January 2004 Resource Guide compiled by the Bear River Coordinated Resource Management Plan (a.k.a. Bear River Workgroup).

Non-governmental Organizations

Bear River Workgroup

The Bear River Workgroup (formerly the Bear River Coordinated Resource Management Planning group) receives its funding through a contract originally written under the auspices of the Yuba Watershed Council, but it functions separately.  It is housed within the Nevada County Resource Conservation District (NCRCD).  The original CRMP and the RCD paid for a “Disturbance Inventory” report conducted by Fraser Shilling of U.C. Davis around 2001.  The CRMP also had funding for a year’s worth of water quality measurements at about 20 sites in the watershed.  In 2001, the CRMP became the Workgroup.  In 2004, the Workgroup received a three year grant from the Department of Conservation to implement its Bear River workplan and to hire a coordinator.  The Workplan includes a section on enhancing flows in the river.  The coordinator is Lesa Ostrom; Tamara Gallantine is the most involved NCRCD staff person (see contact list).

Foothills Water Network

The Foothills Water Network was formed in 2004 due to the realization that the various agencies involved in the Drum/Spaulding and Yuba/Bear projects were already meeting together - and making significant investments - in preparation for their FERC license renewals in 2013, and that similar coordinating efforts were needed among affected watershed groups and environmental organizations.  The Network was conceived as a forum in which participants could learn about the complex interrelationships of the Yuba, Bear, and American River watersheds; understand and prepare for FERC re-license process; and work toward a united front in these and related matters.  The Network has already helped to prepare a series of GIS maps of the problem-shed; summarized how the watersheds are managed today for water supply and hydropower purposes; and begun to collect information on the resources and goals of each sub-watershed area.

Yuba Watershed Council

The YWC formed in the fall of 1997 as a  group of local, state, and federal agencies, conservation and environmental organizations, and neighborhood associations began meeting to discuss applying for a grant through Proposition 204, the Safe, Clean, Reliable Water Supply Act of 1996.  The Council has over 60 members (signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding, listed below) and its monthly meetings have regular attendance by an average of 30 people.  They have a volunteer monitoring program that gets individuals out to testing sites; Fraser Shilling of U.C. Davis is involved in coordinating a citizen’s monitoring program for riparian weeds, with a NFWF grant, as a pilot program through the Yuba Watershed Council.  Their work plan for the Prop. 204 grant includes projects in the Yuba River, Deer Creek, and Bear River watersheds.  For the Bear River, the plan includes the creation of the Bear River CRMP to look at water quality and ecological problems, and development of the GIS “Disturbance Inventory” done by Dr. Fraser Shilling (

Yuba/Feather Workgroup

The Yuba/Feather Workgroup was formed as a stakeholder and agency collaborative effort to oversee the use of Proposition 13 (Machado Act) funding for flood management projects by the Yuba County Water Agency.  (The Act authorizes $70 million in non-dam flood management projects by the Agency.)  The Workgroup, YCWA, DWR and Three Rivers Authority have agreed to use a portion of these funds (including $20 million in mitigation funds in addition to the $70 million above) to setback a portion of the Bear River levee on the north side of the river from the confluence with the Feather River to SR 70, a total of 322 acres.  In addition to improved flood protection, the setback will provide opportunities for significant enhancement of the fishery on the lower Bear.  (For additional information contact John Clerici, YFW facilitator,

YubaRiver Conservancy

The Yuba River Conservancy is a collaborative focused on land and easement acquisitions for conservation, habitat management and restoration in the Yuba River basin. Their original proposal to CALFED was coordinated by the South Yuba River Citizens League and the Yuba-Sutter Land Trust, and included myriad partner agencies.  Their intent was to form a cohesive strategy of conservation acquisitions and incentive-based management practices for key terrestrial and aquatic habitat.

UpperYubaRiver Studies Program

The Upper Yuba River Studies Program is an agency-stakeholder collaborative funded by the CALFED Bay-Delta Program since 1999 to determine the feasibility of restoring salmon and steelhead populations in the upper Yuba River system.  The collaborative includes an Agency Team consisting of federal, state and county agency representatives; a Lake Team of landowners, PG&E , NID and YCWA; and a River Team of environmental and conservation groups.  The study program is funded by CALFED and consists of a series of work scopes developed by the collaborative, including Habitat, Flood Risk Management, Water Quality, Sediment, Economics, and Water Supply and Hydropower.  The work scopes have been through two peer review processes.  An early agreement in the process was to endeavor to “keep whole” those who might be adversely impacted by a feasible restoration effort, which had the unforeseen but helpful consequence of forcing the study area to expand to include the Bear River, the North Fork American River, and the associated foothill creeks and ravines.  The Water Supply and Hydropower work scope is to include maps and flow charts detailing the complex interchange of water in the Yuba, Bear, and American watersheds, as well as development and use of a public simulation model to assess the impacts of possible changes in operations.  In 2000 the UYRSP experienced the first of a series of delays due to CALFED funding and other problems, and it remains uncertain exactly when these efforts might be completed.  (For additional information see or contact John Clerici, UYRSP facilitator, at

American River Water Forum

The Water Forum includes business and agricultural leaders, citizens groups, environmentalists, water managers, and local governments in Sacramento county.  In 1995 they were joined by water managers in Placer and El Dorado counties.  This group formed to discuss regional water issues, and after six years of meeting, has produced the Water Forum Agreement as a regional solution to water needs and issues.

American River Watershed Group

The American River Watershed Group is a multi-stakeholder watershed group focused on the North and Middle Forks of the American River above Folsom Reservoir. Members of ARWG have signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing to principles of stewardship for the watershed. Meetings are held monthly.  They also have a watershed education program in cooperation with the local school districts.

Governmental Agencies

California Department of Fish & Game 

CDFG is responsible for sensitive wildlife in the watershed.  John Hiscox is the District Fish Biologist with knowledge of the area.  John Nelson is the Fishery Biologist with knowledge of anadromous fish downstream of foothill dams, like in lower Bear and Auburn Ravine. Ian Drury is the staff person working on Bear River issues.   Stafford Lehr is the Fisheries Biologist working on the North Fork American watershed, and he is immersed in the ongoing studies of amphibian conditions in the Sierra. 

U.S.Forest Service

The Tahoe National Forest includes the very upper parts of the Bear watershed.  They conduct biological surveys (chiefly looking for listed species like red-legged frogs) if a project (such as mining or timber harvest) is proposed at a certain site.  They may have some records from surveys in tributaries like Steephollow Creek.  They will get involved with the FERC relicensing process when it comes around.  Biologist Anne Carlson is our contact there. 

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The USFWS has reviewed the potential of the lower Bear River to support Fall-run Chinook.  The lead fisheries biologist for the Bear River is Cesar Blanco.  He has begun to prepare a Request for Proposals for an assessment of existing conditions and enhancement potential.  Other contacts include Andrew Hamilton, Roger Guinee and Gary Taylor in Sacramento, and Jim McEvitt, retired.

U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division 

Research Chemist Charles Alpers is an expert on mercury transport and bioaccumulation, and is involved in a ecological food chain study at New Camp Far West reservoir.  USGS has also played a major role in the Upper Yuba River Studies Program.

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

The National Marine Fisheries Service is charged with rebuilding and maintaining sustainable anadromous fisheries, and with promoting the recovery of protected species.  The Service is involved on the Upper Yuba River Studies Program.  Mike Tucker is the regional representative. 

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

The Commission will oversee the relicensing of the Drum/Spaulding and Yuba/Bear hydro projects. 

Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau oversees approximately 952 acres of federally owned land along the Bear River in Placer and Nevada counties. 

CaliforniaState Water Resources Control Board

The State Board is conducting a review of the Nevada Irrigation District’s permitted water rights. 

Nevada County Resource Conservation District

The RCD is involved in projects through the Bear River Workgroup and the Yuba Watershed Council.  The RCD works primarily on water quality effects of mercury from mining and pollutants from human sewage.   The RCD is a sponsor of the Yuba River Watershed Health Improvement and Monitoring Project with Prop. 204 funding and a CALFED Ecosystem restoration grant.  The RCD works with the Bear River CRMP on the volunteer monitoring program to measure water quality parameters.


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