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Expansion of 5 mph powerboat speed limit proposed for rec area

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A draft planning blueprint for the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area includes plans to stretch a 5 mph speed limit for powerboats up the American River to the area in the canyon below Auburn that rafters should soon be traveling downstream on. Released this week, the draft environmental impact report covers about 20,000 acres of water and land owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, including about five miles of the North Fork of the American River upstream from Folsom Lake. The proposal in the new general plan is to enforce the 5 mph speed limit on motorized watercraft traveling as far upstream as the boundary of the Folsom Lake Recreation Area with the Auburn State Recreation Area and as far south as Rattlesnake Bar. The speed limit would make the targeted river area ideal for paddling, swimming and fishing, the new report states. The stretch upstream of the proposed speed zone was recently authorized for public access through the long-delayed Auburn dam site by boaters. Official opening of access points in the Auburn State Recreation Area should be opening in the spring but Rattlesnake Bar is also considered a takeout point for longer rafting or kayaking trips. The intent of the speed limit is to maintain and enhance the serenity of an area with steep canyon walls, sheltered waters and a natural setting that contributes to a sense of escape and serenity, the report added. The Rattlesnake Bar boat launch on the Placer County side is also targeted for changes, with development of picnic facilities proposed. The work would include a group picnic area with shade areas and toilets. Also a possibility is extension of the boat ramp farther into Folsom Lake to improve low water access. Reclamation spokesman Jeff McCracken said that the report will provide a defined purpose, vision and long-term goals for the bureau and the state Department of Parks. Two public meetings will be held. The first will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 5 in the Cavitt Junior High School Gymnasium, 7200 Fuller Drive, Granite Bay. The second is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 11 in Folsom Middle School, 500 Blue Ravine Road. Written comments should be received by March 24. They can be sent to Laura Caballero, Bureau of Reclamation, 7794 Folsom Dam Road, Folsom. The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com, or post a comment below.