Funds dry up for Antelope Creek fix-up

Congressional earmark could have fixed troubled creek
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Lobbying efforts from the city of Rocklin has failed to push a new federal grant through Congress that would have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a local creek. Antelope Creek snakes through Rocklin from Loomis off Sierra College Boulevard all the way through Johnson Springfield Park passing under Sunset Boulevard to Sunset East Park before heading into Roseville. Bill Sanchez’s home sits on the bank of Antelope Creek off Zion Court in Rocklin. He loves the creek and wants to protect it. “I’ve seen salmon in here,” Sanchez said. The water level of the creek has, at times, reached flood stage and caused erosion problems. Today roots are exposed and water levels can be seen along the banks that in some places are eight-feet-tall. Sanchez lived through the 1985-86 and 1993 floods that dramatically altered the size and direction of the creek and the land around it. “The floods changed the landscape of the creek,” Sanchez said. “It removed tons of trees. It took out four feet of land and leveled the whole thing.” While Sanchez doesn’t expect the federal government to help a creek in his backyard, he was disappointed that the federal earmark will not happen. “It was surprising, but not expected,” Sanchez said. City officials lobbied Senator Diane Feinstein to include a $500,000 grant money to fix-up Antelope Creek in last year’s Agriculture Appropriations bill. However, cuts in congress axed the proposed Rocklin earmark. It was a part of the compromise that kept the federal government from shutting down earlier this month. Scott Yuill represented the city last February when he traveled to Washington, D.C. at his own expense to help secure the grant.  “Because this erosion affects habitat throughout the entire Dry Creek Watershed, there is an interest on a federal level to correct it,” he said. “No city can or should rely heavily on state and federal funds, especially in this day and age.” According to city funding request, the project consists of moving the current channel away from the steep, cliff-like banks that are being eroded, which will improve water quality for salmon habitat and will also decrease the incidence of flooding upstream from Sunset East Park. The recreated channel was expected to improve the existing fish habitat and restore native plant species, according to the city. Sanchez said the city of Rocklin, Fish and Game and/or the Army Corps of Engineers need to do something before his property falls into the creek below. “You can just take a look at the erosion that has gone on in the last 26 years I’ve lived here it has probably dropped eight feet down,” Sanchez said. “It’s been ignored the last five years. They bust up the beaver dams for flood control, but then they don’t give any support to the homeowner.” Sanchez wants rip rap along the shore. Rip rap is a variety of rock types, commonly granite, limestone or concrete rubble placed along the shoreline to absorb and deflect the impact of waves. Yuill said any projects are now delayed with the loss of funding. “The erosion repairs will just need to be put off until a later date,” Yuill said. “This situation is one more example why it is imperative that Rocklin streamline its processes and fees for business to do business here. Successful economic development, a healthy business climate that creates sustainable commerce, and self-reliance is what’s needed most to provide Rocklin with the funds necessary to maintain itself.” Sanchez said he’ll continue to try to get authorities involved in the growing problem behind his house and admits he may have to turn to litigation to get it done. “What it comes down to — until it does encroach on my property I can’t do a thing,” Sanchez said. “You fight and you fight and it just continues.”