By Paul Moreno
QUINCY — PG&E has completed construction of a parking area for whitewater enthusiasts along the North Fork Feather River in Plumas County .
The new facility is on the Rock Creek Bench between Highway 70 and the North Fork Feather River and is a short distance downstream from PG&E’s Rock Creek Dam, about three miles west of Belden.
The parking area is the result of collaboration by members of the Rock Creek-Cresta Hydroelectric Project Ecological Resources Committee (ERC), which recommended the project as part of the license conditions for the hydropower facility.
ERC members include PG&E, the U.S. Forest Service, American Whitewater Association, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Plumas County, California State Water Resources Control Board and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.
The purpose of the new parking area is to create safer access to the river during whitewater higher flow events, which are usually held on four select summer weekends when PG&E increases flows on an 8-mile portion of the river between the dam and the Rock Creek powerhouse.
Previously, many whitewater rafters and kayakers would park along the narrow shoulder on the opposite side of Highway 70, and traverse down a steep rip rap embankment to access the river, which posed public safety hazards.
PG&E used rock and gravel tailings left over from Caltrans slide removals and road projects about four miles to the south to fill in a dry, flat area along the shoulder of Highway 70. While the grading took about four months to complete, paving had to wait until spring due to the wet winter weather.
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