American Whitewater Signs Clackamas River Settlement Agreement

posted March 2, 2006
by Thomas O'Keefe

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Earlier this afternoon American Whitewater joined 33 organizations in signing a Settlement Agreement to relicense PGE's hydropower projects on the Clackamas River, OR. The Clackamas River is well known for Bob's Hole and great playboating just a short distance from downtown Portland, OR. Recognizing whitewater interests on this river, American Whitewater worked collaboratively with PGE to complete a series of studies that included flow studies on the Oak Grove and Faraday sections, a regional whitewater demand study, a study of whitewater recreation on the Three Lynx reach and Bob's Hole, and a study evaluating sites for construction of a play feature. We appreciate the efforts of PGE to initiate a collaborative approach to study of the recreational resources on this river.


We wish to thank Keith Jensen for his local leadership on the Clackamas River relicensing over the past several years. Keith brought several partners to the table including Alder Creek Kayak Supply, All Star Rafting, Blue Sky Whitewater Rafting, Destination Wilderness, Playboatingnorthwest.com, and River Drifters Whitewater Tours.


We also benefited from our partnerships within the Hydropower Reform Coalition and specifically with American Rivers. American Rivers has been a key partner in this relicensing, playing a significant role in representing our interests in addressing the overall health of the river and its fishery resources.


The Settlement Agreement, which will now be submitted to FERC for review, has several provisions of interest to whitewater boaters who enjoy the Clackamas River.


Specifically, parties to the Agreement have proposed the following measures:


  • Improve warnings to boaters regarding the emergency release valve at Oak Grove Powerhouse.
  • During the days of the Bob’s Hole Rodeo kayaking event (up to three days), PGE will optimize generation timing slightly during the daylight hours when flows are available and able to benefit the event, for the life of the license.
  • Real time river gaging will be improved at Bob's Hole by funding the station at Carter Bridge (RM 40.8) to provide the same flow and stage information as the other two USGS gages upriver.
  • Gage 14209500 just below Oak Grove Powerhouse is currently on a phone line, but can be converted to the satellite system that transmits data once an hour like Gage 14209000. PGE will fund this upgrade and this gage’s annual maintenance.
  • Provide annual contributions to local whitewater events held on the Clackamas River between Timothy Lake and River Mill Dam. This will include providing access to Promontory Park, other in-kind support as appropriate and direct financial support of $4,000 annually.
  • Provide three improved river access sites (each with shoreline access, staging and parking areas), three year-round toilets and one seasonal toilet at sites along the Clackamas River to benefit private as well as commercial boaters. Possible sites include Indian Henry (Sandstone), Whitewater Bridge, Milepost (MP) 35, MP 37, MP 41, and Bob’s Hole.
  • PGE will allow boaters equal access to Project lands permitted to other recreationists, such as anglers.
  • Within five years of license issuance, PGE will contract with a specialist in playboating feature construction and other appropriate experts to determine the feasibility of a playboating feature at Faraday Diversion reach, McIver State Park, or other suitable site. Pending Fish Agency approval, PGE will provide contributions to construction and maintenance of the feature.
  • PGE will work with the boating community to convey information about major planned maintenance events that could affect river flows.
  • PGE will contribute to funding of Law Enforcement on USFS lands.
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These measures will be implemented pending approval by FERC and issuance of a new license. A joint press release announcing the Settlement follows:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2006


For more information please contact:
Mark Fryburg, PGE, 503-464-8444


Agreement reached by 33 organizations on future of Clackamas River hydro project.


Portland, Ore. – A wide variety of organizations, including federal and state agencies, environmental organizations, Native American tribes, local governments, water districts and recreational businesses have reached agreement on the future of hydroelectric power generation on the Clackamas River.


Signed by 33 parties on March 2, the agreement creates a plan for improved fish and wildlife protection and recreational opportunities at Portland General Electric’s (PGE) Clackamas River hydroelectric project.


The signing is a key step in the utility’s effort to renew its federal license for operating the facilities. The collaborative effort spanned seven years of discussions between the parties. The agreement now goes to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission which will make the final determination on licensing.


The agreement provides many beneficial measures for fish passage and habitat throughout the project, including a new downstream fish bypass at North Fork and River Mill dams, a new adult fish trap and sort facility at North Fork, gravel placements in two river sections and improved river flows. The parties agreed to enhanced side channels in the Oak Grove Fork of the Clackamas, creating a refuge for a variety of fish species. PGE will also provide expanded recreational facilities, cultural and educational resources and improvements to wetland and wildlife habitat in the Clackamas River area. The terms also provide for a collaborative process for resolution of water temperature issues downstream of the project, to be addressed by PGE, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and other parties. In addition to the agreement, PGE has also remodeled spillways and is building a new fish ladder at River Mill Dam.


PGE’s Clackamas River hydroelectric system includes eight dams, seven reservoirs, four power houses, and miles of pipelines, canals, tunnels and fish ladders, including the North Fork, Oak Grove, Faraday and River Mill developments. It runs from Timothy Lake in the Cascade Mountains to River Mill Dam at Estacada, Ore.


PGE, headquartered in Portland, is a fully-integrated electric utility that serves more than 775,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Oregon. Visit PGE on the Web at PortlandGeneral.com.

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Associated Rivers

Associated Projects

  • Clackamas Stewardship (OR)
    AW has been a stakeholder in licensing of the hydroelectric projects on this river and protection of key tributaries through the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

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