Canyon Creek Take-Out Access Project Underway (WA)

Posted: 10/21/2014
By: Thomas O'Keefe

In the spring of 2003, American Whitewater engaged in a number of discussions and a site visit to discuss our interest in the relicensing of PacifiCorp's hydropower projects on the Lewis River. Those who paddle Canyon Creek are familiar with the paddle out on Merwin Reservoir and the steep climb up the muddy eroded gully that leads to the parking area adjacent to the bridge. As PacifiCorp developed their proposed Recreation Resource Management Plan for the new hydropower license, we formally requested real-time flow information and improved access at the Yale Bridge site.

In November 2004, PacifiCorp filed their proposal for a new license with federal regulators and in June of 2008 a new license was issued that set a deadline of June 2014 for completion of the access improvements. The project was originally scheduled for 2012 but delayed until September of 2013. Just when we thought the project was ready for construction we received word of more delays and the project was rescheduled for 2014. Throughout the entire time of this project we emphasized the importance of not scheduling construction during the boating season for Canyon Creek that typically spans mid October to late May. The good news is construction is finally underway. The bad news is the project has slipped into the fall boating season and at this point there is not much we can do about it.
PacifiCorp provided us with the following update on the project and use guidelines:
* Parking and take-out use of the project site at Yale Bridge is unavailable for public access/use. This is due to active site preparation and construction taking place. Heavy equipment and construction fencing is onsite, creating public safety hazards and access issues. 
* Taking-out under the bridge is also not available, as the fencing is placed such that the parking location is closed to public, and there is no access from under the bridge to the closed parking area. 
* We ask that people stay out of this site until construction is completed.
* The available take-out location alternative is using the Cresap Bay Day Use Area (this is a short paddle downstream of the bridge). Although this isn’t ideal, it’s a temporary opportunity while we continue moving forward with the Yale Bridge access project. The Cresap Bay Day Use Area is open and free to the public until Oct. 26th (i.e. through this weekend). Cresap was allowed an extension of use until the 31st due to the Speelyai improvements closure. This is an unusual allowance as Cresap’s annual closure date was set by US Fish and Wildlife for habitat reasons and is part of our Federal Energy Regulation Commission settlement agreement.  The extension needed to be cleared with the Terrestrial Coordination Committee (TCC), and was granted with the understanding that we wouldn’t be asking for a second extension.
Unfortunately, PacifiCorp has offered no accommodations for alternative access for a take-out. This was not how things were supposed to unfold but the best we can do at this point is ask for everyone's patience. We are still seeking clarity on when the project will be completed and are hoping it will be close to the originally-planned six-week timeline (some have noticed the closure notice for Speelyai until December 31st which is an unrelated site).
As additional information becomes available we will update this post.

Associated Projects

Volcano Country (OR/WA)

The rivers of Volcano Country within and surrounding the Gifford Pinchot National Forest represent some of the nation's most spectacular whitewater resources.

Associated Rivers

Canyon Creek (Lewis River trib.) WA


Canyon Creek Take-Out, Access Letter (2/11/2003)

Letter to PacifiCorp expressing interest in access and real-time flow information.

Canyon Creek Take-Out Access, Site Visit Letter (4/26/2003)

Letter to PacifiCorp summarizing discussion on site visit regarding take-out access.

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