Still, dam backers do not concede defeat.
"They should have this right on the wall in [Sacramento] City Hall," said Joe Sullivan, who held up a newspaper graphic showing where hundreds of people perished in the 2005 Hurricane Katrina flooding of New Orleans.
After the meeting, Sullivan, president of the Sacramento County Taxpayers League, called the expected water rights revocation "temporarily the end."
"They'll build Auburn Dam," he said, "right after Sacramento is flooded to 7 feet and people have died."
And defenders of the North Fork of the American River are not claiming victory. They figure the fight will continue as long as inundation threatens Sacramento and Southern California needs water.
Ron Stork has argued against the dam for 21 years at the nonprofit group Friends of the River. The controversy, he said, "will never go away."
Vogel is a Times staff writer.