AW Responds To Connecticut River Boating Study (MA)
By: Robert Nasdor
American Whitewater, along with other paddling groups and outfitters, filed comments with FERC responding to the Whitewater Boating Evaluation at Turners Falls on the Connecticut River. The study showed that there is strong demand for boating on this section of the Connecticut River if sufficient flows, scheduled releases, better access, and real-time information are provided. The groups filed the comments in order to provide additional information for the environmental review and to respond to the unsupported statements by FirstLight, the utility performing the study, claiming that there is little demand for boating at Turners Falls.
FirstLight is seeking a new license to continue generating power from the waters of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts. The hydropower project at Turners Falls has a negative impact on aquatic habitat and eliminates recreation opportunities below the dam, largely dewatering nearly 3 river miles. FERC required FirstLight to study the impact of the project on whitewater boating opportunity. Over the course of three days in 2014, 45 kayakers, canoeists, rafters, and paddleboarders evaluated flows in the natural river channel ranging from 2500-13,000 cfs. American Whitewater, New England Flow, Appalachian Mountain Club, Zoar Outdoor, and Crab Apple Whitewater filed comments with FERC supporting the restoration of whitewater boating flows on the Connecticut River at Turners Falls.