Cottonwood history begins with the Sacramento River -- our River of Life.

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The Sacramento - Our Sacred River of Life
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Treaty conclave and pow-wow. [Report] A hundred Native Americans from near and far gathered at Reading_Island - July 15, 2001. Seven tribes were represented, plus our friends in the dominant white "tribe." Greeting the peoples were local dignitaries including Shasta County Supervisor Molly Wilson and Redding Mayor Mark Cibula

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Our River of Life

Our River of life

The State draws Vitality from our River

by Thom Gabrukiewicz
Record Searchlight

River of Destruction. Jesus Maria. Kelly's River. River of Gold. River of the North, San Francisco, Spanish, Buena Ventura, Bona Ventura and El Rio de Sacramento.

In the text of white man's history, the Sacramento River has gone by many names. Some point to the golden opportunities it brought miners. Some trace the history of Spanish exploration -- it's said the Spanish ``discovered'' the river on the Holy Day of the Sacrament in 1808.

The River of Destruction? It seems trappers were impressed by the upper river's springtime fury.

But the river is older than the white man's memory. And the American Indians saw it first.

Sacramento Valley Wintu Indians call it Bohema-Mem (great-water), while the McCloud Wintus call it Nom-Tee-Mem (over-the-hill-water).

Behind the names lies the river's substance. The Sacramento is California's largest river and meanders 384 miles from source to sea. Because of manmade manipulation, the Sacramento is actually two rivers; one is wild and relatively pristine, the other is lethargic and rather sullied.

Shasta Dam is the dividing line between the upper and lower river, but it's hardly the place where the river changes dramatically. The shift is gradual; the river transforms into a glorified ditch as it nears the city of Sacramento.

Indeed, the 54-mile stretch from Redding to Red Bluff has some of the most unspoiled riparian (riverside) forest in the state. Wild trout up to 7 pounds swim its waters; salmon school in its deep holes each year.

It's even better north of Shasta Dam, with white-water rafting and kayaking, swimming holes, waterfalls, challenging fly fishing pockets and unspoiled beauty.

The river gradually turns into an irrigation ditch for farms and ranches, to a point where it no longer flows free.

At least 227 miles of river is encased in riprap levees, which control flooding but prevent the clean gravel salmon and trout need to spawn from entering the system. The Sacramento River has eight dams along its path that further limit salmon and steelhead spawning.

But beyond the names and beyond the concrete intrusions, it is the people who add depth to the cold, jade-green waters.

Celebrities, simple folks

Mt. Shasta has a powerful allure for people, much as the moon affects the tide. The 14,142-foot-elevation peak -- the flanks of which are arguably the headwaters of the river -- attracts all kinds. The river helps hold them.

``I had a dream I walked 14,000 steps and the sign on top said Mt. Shasta,'' said Linda White, a San Diego resident who sought refuge from the city last month at the Sacramento River headwaters in Mount Shasta City Park. ``When the mountain calls you, you come. You drink the water; you go with its flow.''

Andette Longsdale of Marin is a 19-year-old student who took the summer off to travel the West. She left the Russian Wilderness in Siskiyou County and was struck by the beauty of Mt. Shasta. She camped for a few days next to the south fork of the Sacramento.

``I picked Mt. Shasta and this is the river that's here,'' she said, slowly strumming on her guitar. ``It helps me create my music.''

Frank Crosetti is 88 years old and can no longer navigate the river cobbles to fly fish. He's a bait fisherman now, quietly fishing from the banks with a night crawler and several years' knowledge of the river.

The ``Crow'' spends at least five weeks each summer away from his San Francisco Bay area home on the upper Sacramento River, something he's done for years. People pass and wave as a courtesy among anglers, and most don't recognize who he is.

Crosetti also is one of the oldest living former players for the New York Yankees. He played shortstop in 1,682 games (good for 10th place all-time on the Yankees) in 17 seasons. He played with a guy named Ruth and a guy named DiMaggio. He coached the likes of Mantle, Maris and Larson in his 24 years as third-base coach.

``You know they've got a fly named after me ('The Cro') at Ted Fay's,'' Crosetti said, referring to a Dunsmuir fly shop. ``I wanted them to change it to Crosetti, but they won't do it.''

While some are drawn to the area for its fishing, or the mountains, even a postcard can prove powerful enough to lure others.

Oscar Rodriguez and family, more than 18 in all, decided to come to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area last month for some rest and relaxation from the concrete jungles of the Bay Area. While on a drive up Interstate 5, Rodriguez stopped at a Dunsmuir gasoline station and saw the postcard rack.

There, amid pictures of Mt. Shasta and Castle Crags, were several of Mossbrae Falls in Dunsmuir.

``I saw that and knew we had to go,'' Rodriguez said. ``I asked for the directions, and the attendant told me right how to get here. It is a beautiful spot.''

Mossbrae Falls could quite possibly be the single most dramatic feature of the Sacramento River. Cold-water springs burst forth from the canyon walls, where moss, ferns and other aquatic plants prosper. The noise is deafening. The mist is chilling.

Dunsmuir residents like to think the falls belong to everyone. However, the land where the falls emerge sits next to the Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way and is owned by the St. Germain Foundation, a religious group started by Guy W. Ballard in the 1930s.

The organization, with headquarters in Schaumberg, Ill., has more than 300 local groups throughout the world, as well as a reading room in Mount Shasta. People on the Dunsmuir campus like their privacy, but allow anyone to hike, picnic and swim at the viewing area.

``It's always been an unstated, unspoken agreement, like with the UP right-of-way,'' said Will Newman, executive director of the Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce. ``It's their courtesy and good will that makes it happen.''

A lot of people, Michael Hess included, come back to the river each year, like the salmon. The Yucaipa resident bought into a cabin with his father near the Scarlett Way bridge in Dunsmuir and makes a habit of the river.

``I've been coming here for 35 years,'' he said as he walked toward Dunsmuir from fly fishing to get his children for some inner-tubing. ``I want my kids to have the same opportunities I've had.''

Dan Baer is a returnee, too. The Anderson native left the north state to teach biology in Santa Clara. He spent 31 years in the classroom before buying some land and launching into retirement. Baer was soaking his feet in the cool water while Boy Scout Troop 481 from Anderson set up camp on what people jokingly call Danger Island upstream from the Balls Ferry boat ramp. The group was into their second day of a three-day canoeing and kayaking trip.

Baer grew up on the old Coleman National Fish Hatchery near Anderson, where his father, Harry, was manager from 1942 to the early 1970s. He worries that all the people moving to California will not fathom the importance of the river.

``These guys who want to preserve the river need to gather up all the old guys and get their anecdotes,'' he said. ``It's a wonderland, if we keep it that way. It's the lifeblood of this place. It's the circulatory system.''

Keswick Dam

Massive Shasta Dam may hold back the waters of Lake Shasta and is the marker between the upper and lower rivers, but the smaller Keswick Dam controls the flow of the Sacramento River on its trip south.

Dam construction started in 1941 and was finished in 1950 to protect lowland areas from uneven discharge from Shasta Dam, which was finished in 1945.

Each day, water flows from the dam are checked and rechecked. The output is measured in cubic feet per second (cfs). Typically at this time of year, the flows from the dam are around 11,000 cfs.

The daily flows are set in Sacramento by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and are sent by computer relay. The flows are based on complicated models. Flow decisions are up to a committee of bureau officials, state water authorities and weather forecasters. The water quality in the Delta, the temperature of the river -- salmon and trout need cool water to survive -- and agricultural needs all play a part.

Larry Ball and Gordon Huber make sure everything runs right in Redding. Ball is the operations division chief for the bureau; Huber is senior control operator in Keswick's windowless, computerized control room. When everything goes right, these guys are far from the public eye; when the river floods Tehama County walnut orchards or the lowlands near Park Marina Drive in Redding, these are the guys in the hot seat.

``Right now, things are basically on auto-pilot; there's a certain amount of water that's needed to be let out,'' Ball said. ``But when there's a flood control concern, there is more public and media attention. For flood control issues, we are concerned about property and public safety.''

The Sacramento has always been a highway of many names. Lieut. Robert Emmons charted the Upper Sacramento as "Destruction River" perhaps (says Julian Dana) because he confused it with the McCloud, from which Alexander Roderick McLeod had carried a story of hard luck back to Vancouver. Padre Narciso Durán supposedly gave it the name it bears today. Lt. Joaquin Moraga called it the Jesus Maria. The trappers named it the Spanish River. Some called it the Bonaventura and some just the River of the North.

River Discovery Center

Recreation to commerce

Past the Red Bluff Diversion Dam, the river begins to change, but those changes are subtle. Anglers still fish the holes and riffle for salmon and trout, but there riparian forest is interrupted by ranch land. Cattle graze near the water's edge.

Shasta County Supervisor Glen Hawes is a living history book of river information. He grew up on Hawes Ranch, which his grandfather William homesteaded in the early 1860s. The original ranch was 3,000 acres, roughly across from the Anderson River Park down to the mouth of Cow Creek. The property was split among three brothers in the 1950s, and now goes from the Deschutes Road bridge to the mouth of Cow Creek.

``It's great for irrigation, it's beautiful, people used it to fish, it's a nice place to recreate,'' Hawes said recently. ``But it's kind of a wild river, really. There have been a few times that it's flooded my orchards, and that's been after the (Shasta) dam was put in.''


Record - Searchlight Reporter
Thom Gabrukiewicz -

To telephone the tripod site owner . . . . tel [August 2008] Robert Shepherd

quin-nat salmon : [Chinook ikwanat]. From the western Washington Salishan language, cinúk

people water life

Sacramento River Water Shed
Guide to California Fresh Water Fish
Hart's Fly Fishing (Guide Service)
Al Brown's Guide Service
Winter Run Chinook
Boating, Fishing info, Downriver
Sacramento River Preservation Trust
Cal State Riparian Resource Links
Restoration Resources
River of Words website
Upper Sacramento River Watershed
Raft Redding, kayaks, etc
Revel's day-boating (Salmon & Trout)
Native words ~ wisdom for today
Local Indian resources
Salmon - king of all game fish
Sacramento River - Online
Shasta Land Trust (website)
River Partners (Riparian Habitat Project)
Sacramento River Portal
Lower Sacramento River Watershed
Friends of the River (ecology)

History of the upper Sacramento River Valley

No room for racism

Local Non-Profit and Public Service
Redding Area Links
Links, Locations, Resources, Services

secrets of cottonwood

river partners
RIPARIAN HABITAT: This section of the Sacra-mento River between Anderson and Red Bluff is one of the wildest stretches left between Redding and Sacramento. The Bureau of Land Manage-ment has acquired more than 12,000 acres of land to preserve the area, and Tehama County supervisors recently voted to support a proposal designating the land as a national recreation area.

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