Auburn State Recreation Area future-funding efforts continue

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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With $1.11 million in U.S. Bureau of Reclamation funding pledged for 2011 and 2012, efforts to protect and maintain the 26,000-acre Auburn State Recreation Area continue to focus on the long-term. Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery will play host Wednesday to a meeting of several local, state and federal officeholders, as well as various government agencies with an interest in the future of the recreation area. Montgomery said Friday that the group invited includes representatives for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, U.S. Reps. Tom McClintock, R-Roseville, and Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento. Local elected representatives and officials from the Bureau of Reclamation, Cal Fire and state Department of Parks and Recreation are also expected to be attending, she said. Montgomery said she doesn’t expect any new, major developments to emerge over the future of the area. The river-canyon park has about 1 million visitors a year and provides trail, whitewater rafting and other recreational opportunities. Instead, Montgomery said she’ll be expecting some frank discussion on the issues and some follow-up on McClintock’s efforts to find more funding in the existing Bureau of Reclamation budget. To encourage candor, the meeting will not be open to the public. “It’s really an opportunity for individual agencies and representatives of electeds to be upfront,” Montgomery said. Mike Finnegan, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation district manager, said Friday that the strong public response to the possibility of funding cutbacks has been bolstered by support for continued Auburn State Recreation Area budget allotments from both Mid-Pacific District Director Donald Glaser and bureau Commissioner Michael Connor. Both have identified funding for the Auburn-area parkland as a priority, he said. While the $1.11 million for 2012 has yet to be approved in an appropriations bill, it has been recommended for funding, Finnegan said. “The regional director has made it a priority to have fairly significant funding restored for 2012,” Finnegan said. 2013 funding is now in the initial stages of being formalized but a request for continued Auburn State Recreation Area support is expected, he said. On the state level, Finnegan said he is working with State Parks to come up with a long-term partnership agreement for the entire American River park corridor, including Folsom State Recreation Area. Finnegan added that “in a very austere environment,” the bureau is also reviewing the possibility of other sources of funding – which includes cities and counties. “You have to credit the local community in raising awareness,” Finnegan said.