NAC Action Alert
AMERICAN RIVER
Auburn State Recreation Area
California

June 10, 2006

RESOURCES
LAW AND POLICY

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CORRESPONDENCE

CALIFORNIA PARKS

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                     NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE
                           ACTION ALERT
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 Copyright 2006 by the Naturist Action Committee, which is responsible
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DATE: June 10, 2006
SUBJECT: California: American River
TO: Naturists and other concerned citizens

Dear Naturist,

This is an Action Alert from the Naturist Action Committee concerning an important situation in the state of California.

NAC has learned of a plan by California Park managers to force an abrupt end to traditional clothing-optional use along a portion of the American River near Auburn, California. NAC is asking for your immediate action in the form of:
  1) your letters to key California Parks personnel, and
  2) your attendance at an important public workshop on June 15.


WHAT'S THE SPECIFIC THREAT?

Rangers from the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation have indicated that nudity will no longer be permitted on the river near Auburn, and that signs banning nudity will be posted in the area on or about August 1, 2006.
 

HISTORY AND DISCUSSION

Skinny-dipping and nude sunbathing are a decades-old tradition on the American River. The clothing-optional sites most directly affected by the proposed action are located northeast of the town of Auburn, below the confluence of the North and Middle branches of the River and above the site of the indefinitely delayed Auburn Dam on the American River.

THE DAM The dam plays a key role in this situation. As designed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the enormous 685-foot high structure would be the largest concrete dam of its kind, larger than Hoover Dam. The water it would impound would inundate more than 35,000 acres. Congress authorized the dam in 1965, and preliminary site preparation began in 1967. That included construction of a diversion tunnel to take the river's water around the dam site. River rafters were forced to remove their craft at the Highway 49 bridge, near the confluence of the river branches, more than 3 miles upstream from the dam site.

Excavation of the dam foundation began in 1974. In 1975, however, an earthquake of magnitude 5.7 struck just 45 miles away. Geologists determined that the quake involved the same fault system that runs under the dam site. Engineers who designed the dam admitted that it had not been designed to withstand such a quake. The authorization for the project remained, but funding for the dam was withdrawn and construction was stopped.

The dam project remains in limbo. The American River area it would affect remains funded by the Bureau of Reclamation, and under a 1977 contract, it has been operated by California State Parks as the Auburn State Recreation Area (SRA). Meanwhile, since 1977, generations of Californians and others have continued the tradition of nude recreation along the river.

THE LAW Section 314.1 of State Penal Code is the portion of general state law used to charge indecent exposure, but California courts have said that absent any lewd content, benign nudity like skinny-dipping is not prohibited under 314.1. Title 14, Section 4322 of the California Administrative Code bans nudity in State Park units. However, well established State Parks policy and court decisions have limited restrictions on nudity in traditional areas of clothing-optional use, and Section 4322 itself allows for the creation of areas within state parks to be set aside officially for clothing-optional use. Historically, California Parks personnel have not hassled people for mere nudity along the American River, unless a specific complaint has forced them to respond.

Despite a recent effort to force resumption of the dam construction, there has been even great pressure to plug the bypass tunnel and return the river to its channel. California Parks and the Bureau of Reclamation will initiate exactly that action this year, and with input from the public, the agencies will be developing a joint General Management Plan for moving forward.

THE PROBLEM Auburn SRA Superintendent Jay Galloway has determined that the return of rafters to section of the river below the Highway 49 bridge and above the old dam site means that the skinny-dippers must go. He intends to post signage banning nudity in the traditional clothing-optional areas and will instruct rangers to begin arresting those who do not comply.

Superintendent Galloway has declared that since naturists are "breaking the law," they will not be considered stakeholders in the development of the General Management Plan, and their attempts at participation and input will be ignored.


WHAT IS NAC DOING?

The Naturist Action Committee has let Superintendent Galloway and California Parks know very clearly that naturists will NOT be ignored. The contemplated prohibition against nude recreation at traditional clothing-optional sites in the Auburn State Recreation Area violates established California Parks policy (the Cahill Policy).

NAC has also informed Superintendent Galloway and California Parks that the proposed action contravenes established state case law (California v. Bost), which addressed a case in Placer County, the very county in which the traditional clothing-optional sites on the American River are located.


WHAT IS NAC ASKING YOU TO DO?

The Naturist Action Committee is asking you to do TWO things:

   1) Write immediately to the California Parks officials responsible for the Auburn State Recreation Area.

   2) Attend an important public workshop on June 15 to establish parameters for a General Plan/Resource Management Plan for the Auburn State Recreation Area (SRA). The Plan is to be developed and released jointly by California Parks and the Bureau of Reclamation.

IMPORTANT: The hearing is scheduled for JUNE 15, so it's necessary for you to take action quickly.


WHO SHOULD WRITE

NAC is asking ALL NATURISTS and other concerned individuals to write, regardless of your residence. The area at issue is U.S. public land being administered as a California public park. This is a matter that affects us all.


WHOM TO CONTACT

In this instance, phone calls and e-mails are likely to be ineffective, since they can easily go unreported. Please write to ALL THREE of the following key individuals.

   Scott Nakaji
   Gold Fields District Superintendent
   California State Parks
   7806 Folsom Auburn Road
   Folsom, CA 95630

   Jay Galloway
   Auburn Sector Superintendent
   California State Parks
   501 El Dorado
   Auburn, CA 95604

   Jim Micheaels
   Project Manager
   California State Parks
   Gold Fields District
   7806 Folsom-Auburn Road
   Folsom, CA 95630


Key points to remember when writing:

   1. Identify yourself. Anonymous correspondence is generally disregarded. If you are a California resident, please say so prominently.

   2. Be brief and polite.

   3. Say clearly and specifically that you OPPOSE any move to ban skinny-dipping and nude sunbathing on the American River.

   4. Say clearly and specifically that you OPPOSE the attempt to remove skinny-dippers and nude sunbathers from the public discussion.


WHAT ELSE TO SAY?

Here are some additional points to consider:

   1. Clothing-optional use at traditional sites on the river is an environmentally friendly, low impact use of the resource.

   2. Naturists are responsible stewards of public lands.

   3. Skinny-dippers are not lawbreakers under the conditions present in the Auburn SRA. California law does not criminalize mere nudity in the absence of lewd behavior. The California Administrative Code, California Parks policy and the rulings of California courts have established specific accommodations for clothing-optional recreation in traditional areas like those in the Auburn SRA along the American River.

   4. User conflicts, if any, are best resolved by informational signage and user group cooperation, not by the arbitrary elimination of one group of users.

   5. Successful models and precedents already exist for accommodation of clothing-optional recreation as part of a diverse array of uses in other California Parks units, viz., Torrey Pines (Black's Beach), San Onofre, Grey Whale Cove.


VERY IMPORTANT: ATTEND THE PUBLIC WORKSHOP

    Date: June 15, 2006
    Time: 6 – 9 pm
    Location: Canyon View Community Center
             471 Maidu Drive
             Auburn, CA 95603

This is one of only three public workshops planned during the preparation of a General Management Plan for the Auburn State Recreational Area. Of the three workshops, this is the most important because it will establish the key issues, opportunities and constraints for the entire Plan. It is crucial that naturists and their interests are NOT ignored in this public process.

Even if you do not intend to speak at the Public Workshop, your presence is important as support for those who will be speaking on behalf of naturists.

IF YOU SPEAK AT THE WORKSHOP   It's perfectly natural that you should be outraged at attempts to exclude naturists from public lands, and even from the process that plans the future of the resource! Nevertheless, if you speak at the workshop, you must avoid making personal attacks, even though it's hard not take the entire matter personally. If you like, you may make use of the points offered above for those who will be writing.


MORE INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

Additional information and links are available, along with this NAC Action Alert on the web site of the Naturist Action Committee.

  
www.naturistaction.org

Select "Alerts" and find this NAC Action Alert under Current Alerts.


PLEASE HELP NAC TO CONTINUE HELPING NATURISTS!

The Naturist Action Committee is a volunteer nonprofit organization that exists to advance and protect the rights of naturists throughout North America. Fighting for the clothing-optional recreational use of public land is expensive. To do its job, NAC relies entirely on the voluntary generosity of supporters like you. To donate to NAC, use the address below

   NAC
   PO Box 132
   Oshkosh, WI 54903

Or call toll free (800) 886-7230 to donate by phone using your MasterCard, Visa or Discover Card. Or use your credit card to make a convenient online donation:
www.naturistaction.org/donate/

Thank you for choosing to make a difference.

Naturally,

R. Allen Baylis
Don Stanton
Board Members
Naturist Action Committee

---------------------------------------------------------------
Naturist Action Committee (NAC) - PO Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54903
Executive Dir. Bob Morton       -
<execdir@naturistaction.org>
Board Member Allen Baylis      -
<rab@baylislaw.com>
Board Member Don Stanton       -
<dfs1@comcast.net>
Online Rep. Dennis Kirkpatrick  -
<naturist@sunclad.com>
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