California Debris Commission
The California Debris Commission was a federal commission created in 1893 by an act of Congress (27 Stat. 507) to regulate California streams that had been devastated by the sediment washed into them from gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 mining operations upstream in the Sierra Nevada. It was created to mitigate the damage to natural seasonal river flow and navigation, which had been caused by the extensive use of hydraulic mining
Hydraulic mining
Hydraulic mining, or hydraulicking, is a form of mining that uses high-pressure jets of water to dislodge rock material or move sediment. In the placer mining of gold or tin, the resulting water-sediment slurry is directed through sluice boxes to remove the gold.-Precursor - ground...

. The act was codified under Navigation in 33 U.S.C.
Title 33 of the United States Code
Title 33 of the United States Code outlines the role of navigable waters in the United States Code.—Navigable Waters Generally—International Rules for Navigation at Sea—Navigation Rules for Harbors, Rivers, and Inland Waters Generally—Navigation Rules for Great Lakes and Their Connecting and...

 Chapter 14 (§§ 661-683). Given substantial power by Congress, the California Debris Commission significantly reduced the stream damage caused.

Since the United States Army Corps of Engineers
United States Army Corps of Engineers
The United States Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency and a major Army command made up of some 38,000 civilian and military personnel, making it the world's largest public engineering, design and construction management agency...

 (USACE) had conducted similar works for the government since the beginning of internal improvements
Internal improvements
Internal improvements is the term used historically in the United States for public works from the end of the American Revolution through much of the 19th century, mainly for the creation of a transportation infrastructure: roads, turnpikes, canals, harbors and navigation improvements...

, they were considered the most knowledgeable, but since this work was outside existing river and harbor work
Rivers and Harbors Act
Rivers and Harbors Act may refer to one of many pieces of legislation and appropriations passed by the United States Congress since the first such legislation in 1824. At that time congress appropriated $75,000 to improve navigation on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers by removing sandbars, snags,...

, a commission was established to support it instead the normal Committee on Rivers and Harbors
United States House Committee on Rivers and Harbors
The House Committee on Rivers and Harbors was a U.S. House committee from 1883 until 1946. It was authorized early in the 48th Congress in December 1883, when the committee was given jurisdiction over subjects relating to the improvements of rivers and harbors; it also had the responsibility of...

. The commission consisted of three officers of the Corps of Engineers, appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. As with the other works, they operated under the supervision of the Chief of Engineers and under the direction of the Secretary of War, who was later replaced by the Secretary of the Army.

Hydraulic mining causes large-scale erosion where employed to move unconsolidated sediments for mineral processing; it also causes similar large-scale sedimentation in downstream areas with a decreased stream gradient. The tons of sediment moved in this man-made and natural process resulted in raising the riverbeds along the Yuba
Yuba River
The Yuba River is a tributary of the Feather River in the Sacramento Valley of the U.S. state of California. It is one of the Feather's most important branches, providing about a third of its flow. The main stem of the river is about long, and its headwaters are split into North, Middle and South...

, Sacramento
Sacramento River
The Sacramento River is an important watercourse of Northern and Central California in the United States. The largest river in California, it rises on the eastern slopes of the Klamath Mountains, and after a journey south of over , empties into Suisun Bay, an arm of the San Francisco Bay, and...

, and some other rivers. This in turn increased the threat of floods in areas along the rivers, including such towns as Marysville
Marysville, California
Marysville is the county seat of Yuba County, California, United States. The population was 12,072 at the 2010 census, down from 12,268 at the 2000 census. It is included in the Yuba City Metropolitan Statistical Area, often referred to as the Yuba-Sutter Area after the two counties, Yuba and...

 on the Yuba. Over time this sediment would eventually move downstream to other river confluences and San Francisco Bay, disrupting navigation in those channels.

Congress created the California Debris Commission to address the man-made damage and mitigate its effects. Several methods were used to solve the adverse effects. The commission dredged the sediment from the rivers and deposited it on available land nearby; in some areas they constructed larger basins to contain the debris, along the Yuba River and other rivers, the mountains of sediment were piled along its banks, effectively making levees from the debris to protect against future flooding.

Among the members of the commission were Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur was an American general and field marshal of the Philippine Army. He was a Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the...

 in the early 1900s and Ulysses S. Grant III
Ulysses S. Grant III
Ulysses Simpson Grant III was the son of Frederick Dent Grant, and the grandson of General of the Army and President of the United States Ulysses S. Grant. He was an American soldier and planner...

 in the early 1920s.

The Water Resources Development Act of 1986
Water Resources Development Act of 1986
The Water Resources Development Act of 1986 is part of , a series of acts enacted by Congress of the United States on November 17, 1986....

eliminated the commission, with its work now the responsibility of the Corps' South Pacific Division.
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