Fires, goat grazing to manage vegetation, utility and levee maintenance work were all common sights again this year and will continue to be in the future. A much bigger change has been large bridge and flood control projects just upstream reducing aquatic habitat in and along the river along with upland habitat loss. Only narrow strips of habitat were available on the south (SLP) side of the river before this work started and much less exists now. Mitigation efforts were mostly elsewhere in the Parkway. Remaining habitat is more important than ever and increased restoration will be needed. Recreation access has been detoured for months and will continue in 2023. Unfortunately the off levee location selected for the Two Rivers Bike trail extension after other major construction is completed will further reduce existing habitat while likely increasing human disturbance it remaining areas.
Bridge Widening Just Upstream From SLP (video)
Larger numbers than ever seen before of vehicles and other camp sites occupied many areas around the lower Am River Parkway as people without homes gathered together. Fires, trash and habitat destruction continue to be common impacts. The struggle to find long term housing solutions beyond the Parkway continues in spite of funding and political pressure.
The same is apparently true for the AfterShock rock concert which brought 160,000 people to Discovery Park with noise and other impacts across the lower Am River for the 10th year with little if any value to the Parkway. The event is already scheduled to return next year as well.
Meanwhile the long delayed Am River Parkway Natural Resource Management Plan and its Monitoring Plan are still in draft form under review with many questions and concerns about how adequate funding and oversight will be possible in spite of all the ongoing pressures already in place.
With the pressure from everyone coming out to enjoy nature and recreation at SLP combined with the impacts from construction and maintenance activities throughout the lower Am River Parkway, remaining habitat is more important than ever for wildlife.
Examples of wildlife in the immediate area:
River Otter Viewing in Lower Am River Parkway (video)
Fall Wildlife Viewing & Giving Thanks at SLP (video)
It is very important that habitat and wildlife are given higher priority to preserve and restore these values if the lower American River Parkway is to provide wildlife, recreation and environmental services for all who enjoy it.