Stanislaus River watershed

Middle Fork Stanislaus River watershed

  • Kennedy Meadows
  • Spring Gap Powerhouse (Middle Fork Stanislaus)

 

South Fork Stanislaus River watershed

  • Lyons Reservoir

 

Middle Fork Stanislaus River watershed

Kennedy Meadows: The 240-acre Kennedy Meadows property contains pine forests and meadowland and a mile of the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River.  Kennedy Meadows is an extremely popular recreation area; the total annual number of visitors is estimated to be about 21,000.  An estimated 14,000 vacationers stay at the family resort and pack station established in 1917.   About 1,500 take horsepacking trips from the pack station. Kennedy Meadows is a principal trailhead for the Emigrant Basin Wilderness Area, a 113,000-acre high Sierra wilderness in Stanislaus National Forest.  Thousands of other visitors walk through the PG&E parcel in order to access the high country to the south for wilderness backpacking or day trips to Relief Reservoir. Due to its extremely high visitation and the funneling of so many backcountry visitors through the property, Kennedy Meadows has extremely high public values. 

Spring Gap Powerhouse (Middle Fork Stanislaus):  A popular fishermen’s trail follows the Middle Fork Stanislaus River between Beardsley Afterbay and Sand Bar Campground, a distance of about four miles.  The river corridor is very nice, with lots of attractive forest, patches of open meadow, and lush riparian vegetation.  This stretch of the Middle Fork is an exceptional trout fishery managed as a Wild Trout Stream by the Department of Fish and Game.  While most of the river frontage is national forest land, PG&E owns 160 acres at the Spring Gap Powerhouse, with the immediate river frontage under FERC license. 

South Fork Stanislaus River watershed

Lyons Reservoir: PG&E owns 280 acres around Lyons Dam and a strip about ½ mile wide along 2.4 miles of the river just upstream of the reservoir which is contiguous with national forest land.  The upstream lands contain productive forest lands, some beautiful wetland areas along the river, and meadows. At this present time, the PG&E lands near the reservoir are generally degraded from extensive past logging and extensive ORV use, but they are still highly valuable because of the wetlands and because they drain into a critically important drinking water reservoir for Tuolumne County residents.

The upstream wetland and meadow areas would be flooded if Lyons Dam is raised as has been proposed in the past by the Tuolumne Utilities District (TUD).  However, based on the district's recent computer modeling of county growth and water demand, TUD directors have publicly stated they do not expect to need an expanded reservoir at Lyons for the next 35 years.  Given potential changes over coming decades in water recycling and technological changes, there is no way to predict whether or not such dam expansion will ever be economically feasible.