AW and Northeast Paddlers Seek More Class III Opportunities

posted February 1, 2012
by Kevin Colburn

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American Whitewater recently joined regional paddling and conservation partners in seeking additional class III paddling opportunities on Vermont's Little and West rivers.  The requests were formal filings made to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The West River

The West River is a treasured whitewater river that is regulated by the Army Corps of Engineer's Ball Mountain Dam.  Spring and fall recreational releases have attracted hundreds of paddlers for over half a century, providing for great social and recreational events, and an econonmic boost to the local community. In recent years however, the spring releases have been cancelled because the dam is not designed to allow salmon to pass during times of water storage in the reservoir (which is required for most releases).  

A hydropower developer has proposed the installation of hydropower generation units and a fish passage facility at Ball Mountain Dam.  The hydropower project has the potential to fix dam's the fish passage problems and result in better flows for both fish and paddlers, including the restoration of spring releases.  However, it appears that the proposed hydropower project fails to meet these objectives - missing a major ecological, recreational, and economic opportunity.  American Whitewater, Appalachian Mountain Club, New England FLOW, and the Vermont Paddlers' Club filed comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment for the project seeking additional project benefits. 

Read our comments HERE.

The Little River

The Little River is regulated by Waterbury Reservoir, and offers Class I-III whitewater boating opportunities downstream of the hydropower project's powerhouse.  American Whitewater and New England FLOW have worked for a decade to secure scheduled recreational releases on the Little River, and have a draft agreement to provide a great release schedule.  WIth this said, the relicensing of the hydropower project has been stalled for several years, holding up the releases and other mitigation.  Recently, the hydropower project owner requested an amendment to their old license allowing them to install more efficient generators with slightly larger flows. 

American Whitewater, New England FLOW, and the Vermont Paddlers' Club recently requested that FERC re-initiate the relicensing process, issue the new license, and then promptly approve the new generators.  In this way we hope to promptly secure new recreational releases, more efficient hydropower generation, and the resolution of a stalled dam relicensing process.  

Read our comments HERE.



Associated Projects

  • West River (VT)
    Paddlers have long enjoyed and defended the few recreational releases on Vermont's West River. New hydro proposals may offer opportunities or impacts.

Associated Rivers

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Clubs