San Joaquin River slated for 'blueway' status

November 2, 2011 

The San Joaquin River is one of two California streams designated by the federal government to become a blueway – a boating trail to camping, fishing, bird-watching and other kinds of recreation.

A U.S. Interior Department report names the San Joaquin and the Los Angeles River in Southern California as blueway sites. The department says it will help the regions link wildlife refuges, parks and other public recreation spots on the river.

An announcement about the blueway designation is expected Thursday from the San Joaquin River Partnership, 13 groups and agencies dedicated to restoring the river. The campaign is just beginning the planning stages.

"The San Joaquin River Blueway is about lifting up the region," said Dave Koehler, a long-time river restoration advocate and coordinator of the partnership. "The blueway will connect individuals and families to the Valley's rich natural and cultural heritage and creates recreation opportunity for healthier lives."

Interior is naming two rivers in each state this year for blueway status, giving local groups direct access to federal agencies and resources in planning. It is part of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative, a federal push to connect people with nature.

The National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will collaborate with San Joaquin River advocates.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation already is running a vast project to restore the San Joaquin as part of a 2006 settlement to a long-running lawsuit.

The blueway concept is a separate effort to extend and promote recreation over hundreds of river miles from Friant Dam to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

The reporter can be reached at mgrossi@fresnobee.com or (559) 441-6316.

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