The Auburn Dam has been the subject of heated debate for too many years. Now, with the river scheduled to be re-routed back to its natural course within the next couple years and the diversion tunnel set to be re-filled, proponents of the dam still won’t give up.

American River Back In Natural Path

In a surge of protest and in the spirit of self-preservation, the river took matters into its own hands last week as it spilled over the coffer dam built to divert its waters towards the tunnel and away from the Auburn Dam site, reclaiming its natural course all on its own. The above picture was provided by Protect American River Canyons, a grassroots educational group dedicated to preserving the North and Middle Forks of the American River.
For more complete coverage on the event, go to


Scott Armstrong just sent these pictures along for me. He and a few other friends headed out last week to see how well the Coloma and Lotus valleys were holding up against an extremely full South Fork American River– pretty amazing how much stuff got drowned or relocated. Normal flows for this river range from 9 to 20 hundred cfs, and last Wednesday it was running somewhere between 40 and 50 thousand.

Troublemaker RapidTroublemaker Rapid: Hopefully most people are pretty concentrated on their paddling while going through this one. But for anyone who happened to be looking around at the scenery last time, ignoring your guide’s increasingly louder commands (or if you were guiding– ignoring your crew’s increasingly panicked faces)… you may have noticed a cable running across the river about 20 feet above your head. Note that the cable in this picture could now take off your head. Scott told me that kayakers who ran the rapid that day were hitting their paddles on the cable as they ducked underneath.

South Fork American at flood stageBig Hydraulics Along River-Left: Remember all those really scary holes we had to get away from the last time we ran the South Fork?? It was HUGE!


Lunch Time: Scott enjoys a bite of his tasty water swirls around his legs… aahhh- how we love this peaceful river life! Note the tarp structures in the background. This picture was taken at our lunch spot on Cronin Ranch– almost completely submerged.