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Report of State Engineer 1

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The lands bordering the Feather, Yuba and Bear Rivers, as well as those adjacent to….the Sacramento Valley, which have received the flow of debris or detritus, were for the most part naturally fertile, as all most alluvial bottoms are….The lands were sometimes in a high state of cultivation, and were dotted with prosperous homes, fruitful orchards, and luxuriant fields. But a great change has been wrought in the landscape – one which is not pleasant to contemplate. By the rapid accumulation of the sands the natural channels of the Yuba and Bear Rivers were first obliterated, and the beds of the streams raised to a level with the top of their former banks. Levees that were thrown up to confine the waters to their accustomed courses only had the effect of causing the beds to rise still higher by the constant deposition of detritus between them, until they were overtopped by the floods, and the bottom lands were submerged form rim to rim of the adjacent plains with sand and clay sediment, to such depths that at places orchards, gardens, fields, and dwellings were buried from sight, landmarks were lost, and the course of the devastating flood was marked out by broad commons of slimes and sands….The adjacent lands are thus more easily overflowed, and although not buried with detritus, are rendered marshy, cold, and unsusceptible of cultivation. To say that they are “drowned out” expresses their condition precisely. (William H. Hall, Report of State Engineer, 1881)

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