In voting 4-1 Tuesday to approve a resolution of support, the board joins Auburn City Council, the Auburn Recreation and Park District board and the Auburn Chamber of Commerce board in publicly endorsing an economy that includes whitewater rafting and kayaking.
Mike Lynch, the Recreation District board chairman and a ranger in the Auburn State Recreation Area for 35 years, said that in good years more than one million people use the canyonlands for recreation. Lynch said a vote would support a future that would include more certainty that the area would remain a “river-based recreation and natural mecca.”
The recreation area was formed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to look after federal lands earmarked in the 1960s for an Auburn dam. Earthquake and financial questions have kept the dam from being built and the State Parks Department now manages an increasingly popular recreation destination, just east of Auburn.
Gary Estes, an Auburn resident, said that the dam debate revolving around flood control issues in the Sacramento area is over, with Sacramento finding other solutions to increase safety. Estes invited supervisors to visit Downtown Auburn’s Central Square, where they could observe monuments and markers placed in the sidewalk honoring an aspect of the recreation economy — endurance riding and running events that end in the city.
The vote to support the resolution wasn’t a unanimous one. Supervisor Kirk Uhler reminded the board that they would be taking a stance, that in his opinion, went against historical county backing of water storage on the American River canyon.
Uhler said the American River canyon is unquestionably beautiful. “But there are scores of beautiful canyons,” he said. “There are not scores of rivers that could be meeting the water supply needs of our current and future population.”