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Central Sierra river may win increased protections

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Part of a river draining the central Sierra Nevada could win new protections under a wild-and-scenic designation, despite complaints that the action could aggravate water shortages caused by California's drought.

The state Senate voted 22-12 Thursday to apply the designation to 37 miles of the Mokelumne River in Calaveras and Amador counties.

SB1199 by Democratic Sen. Loni Hancock of Berkeley heads to the Assembly over the objections of Republican Sen. Tom Berryhill, who represents the region affected by the proposal.

Berryhill, from Twain Harte, says the designation would prohibit dams and diversions while restricting land use along the river just when the state needs the water most. He also cited local opposition to the proposal.

Hancock says the 157-mile-long river provides water to her district and belongs to all Californians.

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