Canyon Creek (WA) Hydro Dam Proposal Dead in the Water

Posted: 01/15/1998
by Brooke Drury

Until recently, a Class IV-V lower Canyon Creek whitewater run in Southwestern Washington was under the threat of being destroyed by a proposed hydroelectric project that would have diverted a substantial portion of the creek's flow into a pipe for power generation. Thankfully, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) pulled the plug on the project last December.


Dam developer Walter Musa had had his sights set on developing Canyon Creek for years but seemed to be waiting for power prices to rise and render the project economically-viable. FERC found that such "site banking" activities were illegal however and canceled Walter Musa's Preliminary Permit for the Canyon Creek and related Fly Creek Projects. The effect of the ruling is that Musa will now have to go back to square one if he wants to revive the project.


Proposed hydro projects such as this one do have a nasty habit of twitching to life when you least expect it, so it's worth keeping an eye open for a revival of this project if conditions change (e.g., energy rates an energy shortage, etc.). The fact remains, though, that the project has been dealt a major blow, at least for the time being.


Many thanks to everyone who made this victory possible. Particular praise goes out to American Whitewater's Regional Coordinator Andrew Wulfers and the folks at Alder Creek Kayak in Portland, who did such a great job in attracting attention to the plight of Canyon Creek with the 1997 Canyon Creek Race and Rodeo. Alder Creek is planning a repeat of last year's event on May 1st and 2nd.


Kudos should also go to American Whitewater and its affiliates, The Mountaineers, the Rivers Council, the Oregon Kayak & Canoe Club, and the Washington Kayak Club for devoting substantial resources toward the legal fight.


Associated Projects

Canyon Creek (WA)
This spectacular creek has been threatened by a proposal for hydropower development.