Welcome to Our Website

 

The Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation
founded in Sacramento, California September 4, 2003.
 

Our Mission

 

Preserve, Protect, and Strengthen the American River Parkway,
Our Community’s Natural Heart.
 

 

Our Vision

 

We want our Parkway, seven generations from now, to be a vibrant, accessible, and serene sanctuary, nourishing and refreshing the spirit of all who enter it.
 

  Our Guiding Principles

 

  1. Preserving the Parkway is not an option, it’s a necessity.
  2. What’s good for the salmon is good for the river.
  3. Regarding illegal camping by the homeless in the North Sacramento area of the Parkway: Social and environmental justice calls upon us to help the poor and distressed person but not at the expense of the adjacent community to visit the Parkway safely.
  4. If it can be seen from the Parkway, it shouldn’t be built along the Parkway.
  5. Regarding new Parkway usage, inclusion should be the operating principle rather than exclusion.
  6. The suburban lifestyle—as surrounds the American River Parkway—which is imbued within the aspirational center of the California Dream and whose vision is woven into the heart of the American Dream, is a deeply loved way of life whose sustainability we all desire.

 

 

American River Parkway
A Short History

 

The American River Parkway comprises over 4,000 acres of land bordering the American River in Sacramento, California, the same river where gold was discovered in 1848.

The Parkway is a linear park, running approximately 30 miles, beginning from the confluence of the Sacramento and American River, running parallel to the American River up to the Folsom Dam.

The larger part of it is managed by Sacramento County, and the California Department of Fish and Game manages the upper areas including the fish hatchery.

The Parkway has many facets:

  • It is an economic engine that “generates an estimated $259,034,030 in annual economic activity in the local economy.” (American River Parkway: Financial Needs Study. Dangermond Group, July 2000), or that
  • Lake Natoma [above the fish hatchery] was rated “Best All Round Rowing Facility in North America”, by Rowing News, in its April 6, 2003 issue, “As an all-around facility, Lake Natoma may be the closest North America comes to a Bled or Lucerne.” ,
  • “The parkway gets a million more visitors than does Yosemite National Park.” Parkway in Peril, Sacramento Bee Editorial, January 2, 2004.
  • And the bike trail is rated one of the best in the country.

The Parkway was officially established in the early 1960’s and in 1962 the first Parkway Plan was adopted by Sacramento County.

Note: A detailed time line of Parkway planning events can be accessed on our website News page see the Lower Reach Report (PDF), pages 17 through 24.

For several years all went well with the Parkway. It was deeply embraced by the community and everyone felt safe wandering its many wonderful places along the banks of the American River.

In the early 1990’s things began taking a different turn, and by the year 2000 when a report was commissioned by Sacramento County, new threats and an ominous conclusion was outlined:

New Threats to the Parkway

While the threat of development has been overcome, [before the current Parkway mansion visual intrusion threat emerged] new threats confront the parkway today. They include: a significant reduction in maintenance funding which has resulted in the accumulation of a large backlog in deferred maintenance and needed repairs to facilities, a significant reduction in law enforcement presence in the parkway, the spread of exotic plant growth overtaking native plants, and the invasion of areas of the parkway by homeless persons which has created a sense of lack of safety. As a result there has been a progressive degeneration in both the natural and the developed resources of the Parkway during the past two decades along with a dip in attendance in 1997-1998 as a result of price resistance to increased user fees. The deferred maintenance backlog is $6.6 million and approximately $1.8 million is needed annually to bring parkway maintenance and operations up to a level that is consistent with the average expenditure of those agencies surveyed in the benchmark analysis. It has become evident that failure to properly maintain and operate a valuable natural resource like the American River Parkway, allowing the habitat and infrastructure to degrade and fall into disrepair, can destroy a dream as easily as the commercial development of the property. (American River Parkway: Financial Needs Study. Dangermond Group, July 2000), (p. 2) (highlighting added)

There was no significant response to this sober report, few in the public even heard of it, and by 2004 the situation had gotten so bad that Sacramento County threatened to close the Parkway.

The people who founded our organization had begun to realize in 2001 and 2002 that the situation regarding the Parkway was desperate and had attempted to arouse the existing Parkway organizations to address it in a more focused and strategic way.

When that effort met with little response, the decision was made to incorporate as the American River Parkway Preservation Society (ARPPS) and in September 2003 that was completed, several months before the threatened closure.

In the final week of that month we sent out the following open letter to 1,500 people in the community:

AMERICAN RIVER PARKWAY PRESERVATION SOCIETY

September 26, 2003

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE COMMUNITY

The Parkway is in deep trouble and you can help us restore and preserve it.

The American River Parkway is one of the most beautiful, accessible parks in the nation. Over 4,000 acres of river bordering land, meadows, bluffs, granite outcroppings, forests, thickets, horse and bike trails, picnic areas, a nature center, secret islands and gentle rafting rapids in the river running through it, all nestled within a growing community of 1.5 million people. It is the great natural commons in the center of our community.

Over the past several years I have been involved in many Parkway related efforts, including the Sacramento History & Science Commission, as President of the Board of the American River Natural History Association, co-chair of the American River Parkway Committee of the North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce, member of the County Parks Department’s American River Parkway Advisory Group, member of the Parkway Plan Update Focus Group for Adjacent Neighborhoods, and what I have learned has troubled me deeply. I think it will trouble you also. Bear with me a bit as I outline why I think this wonderful resource of ours is in great trouble, and suggest approaches to preserve it.

The critical issues facing the parkway are:

  • Continuing depletion of public funding to provide vital ongoing maintenance, facility repair, law enforcement presence, invasive plant management, and fully restore a sense of safety for those using our priceless public resource.
Our Approach: This is not a new problem, nor is it going to go away any time soon. Years of deferred maintenance have deeply damaged the Parkway, and without the development of alternative funding and management structures, it will continue to deteriorate. We will work with nonprofit organizations, universities, businesses, neighborhood associations, government entities, and churches to develop alternatives to maintain and preserve the Parkway. Our Guiding Principle: Preserving the Parkway is not an option, it’s a necessity.
  • Continuing pressure on the river, whether through flooding, illegal sewage discharge, or taking water for new development, hurts the salmon and other aquatic life.
Our Approach: People want to live in Northern California, so it is not surprising that development continues at record levels. Each new city in our area brings new pressure for growth, more opportunity for sewage accidents, and more potential harm to the salmon.
We will approach government, at all levels, to seek concrete solutions, and encourage them to increase their commitment to improving river water quality and preserving the Parkway. Our Guiding Principle: What’s good for the salmon is good for the river.
  • Continuing habitat devastation, fires, and pollution from widespread illegal camping by the homeless, primarily in the North Sacramento area of the Parkway.
Our Approach: The dignity of the human person, including the poor and distressed, must be respected, but the dignity of the poor and distressed community must also be respected. We will collaborate with homeless advocacy organizations, local government entities, businesses, churches, universities, and neighborhood associations to seek grant funding to build more nature centers on the Parkway, and provide Parkway maintenance jobs to the homeless. Our Guiding Principle: Social and environmental justice call us to help the poor and distressed person and the poor and distressed community.
  • Continuing development pressure to build large homes along the Parkway edges, intruding on the view space, and encroaching into the commons.
Our Approach: Given the stunning beauty of the Parkway, it is no wonder people want to build along its edges, even though their homes may visually intrude on the commons, destroying the sense of being embraced by nature that is the essential Parkway experience. We will work to ensure that the American River Parkway Plan Update, currently in process, will include restrictions against visually intrusive construction that are clear and irrevocable. Our Guiding Principle: If it can be seen from the Parkway, it shouldn’t be built along the Parkway.
Our Mission:

Preserve, Protect, and Strengthen the American River Parkway, Our Community’s Natural Heart.

Our Vision:

We want our Parkway, seven generations from now, to be a vibrant, accessible, and serene sanctuary, nourishing and refreshing the spirit of all who enter it.

On behalf of the Society, I would like you to consider joining with us, and help us preserve the wonderful natural legacy of the American River Parkway.

Sincerely,
David H. Lukenbill
David H. Lukenbill, President
American River Parkway Preservation Society


The response to our letter was wonderful and many members signed up, growing to over 1,000 at our highest and eventually stabilizing at around 700.

Since then we have added a fifth & sixth guiding principle: [5th: Regarding new Parkway usages, inclusion should be the operating principle rather than exclusion. 6th The suburban lifestyle "as surrounds the American River Parkway˜ which is imbued within the aspirational center of the California Dream and whose vision is woven into the heart of the American Dream, is a deeply loved way of life whose sustainability we all desire.] and our work continues. As a policy development organization, our work consists in communicating ideas through available formats, and as our Annual Report shows, we have done that. Utilizing community forums and outreach, posting to the Parkway blog, sending open letters to public leaders and editors of local media, and e-letters to membership and community leaders, facilitating group discussion around important issues, and the publication of public reports, we continue to enrich public dialogue and the process of seeking a comprehensive solution to the problems we all agree burden the Parkway; funding, management, and preservation.

We believe in balanced advocacy; balanced in the sense of believing in the essential environmentalist principles of clean air and clean water, while understanding that government regulations operating from these principles can often become over-burdensome to the most important environmental principle, the prospering and protecting of human communities.


 

American River Parkway Preservation Society
2267 University Avenue
Sacramento, California 95825-7083
Phone: 916.225.9087
Email:
dlukenbill@msn.com

Page Updated - August 2006

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American River Parkway Preservation Society
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American River Parkway Preservation Society

The American River Parkway Preservation Society is a 501 (c)(3) Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation founded in 2003 in Sacramento, California. Federal ID# 20-0238035.

"This photograph was taken by Sally Myers of Tom Myers Photography, on the Guy West Bridge, facing west towards the H Street Bridge, and was donated to ARPPS."