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Want More Lehigh Releases?

Posted: 03/11/2002
By: Kevin Colburn

Help Needed from Lehigh River Runners!

In February, American Whitewater met with Pennsylvania State Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R. Montgomery County) to discuss the possibility of improving whitewater recreation on the Lehigh River in Eastern Pennsylvania, and to support the Senator's many accomplishments in this ongoing process.

Senator Stewart Greenleaf has been spearheading efforts to move a road from the upstream face of the Francis E. Walter Dam on the Lehigh River to the top of the structure. When water backs up today, the road is flooded. This limits reservoir capacity. The new road will allow more water to be stored by the dam, permitting more reliable and frequent water releases through the popular Lehigh River Gorge. It will also improve fish habitat maintenance and water conservation during droughts. Working wit Pennsylvania's U.S. Senators and Congressmen, Senator Greenleaf was able got $300,000 in funding for the initial design work on this project.

We need whitewater paddlers to write Senator Arlen Specter, Senator Rick Santorum, and Congressman Paul Kanjorski to support full funding for this project. We need the authorization (via the Water Resources Development Act) and an appropriation of $4.2 million to get the job done.

Regular mail delivery to federal legislators has been delayed by several weeks due to anthrax concerns. It was suggested that any correspondence supporting this project be faxed to these numbers:

Sen. Specter's fax # is 202-228-1229.
Sen. Santorum's fax #is 202-228-0604.
Cong. Kanjorski's fax# is 202-225-0764.

We can do this! Your help is critical.

A sample letter is found below:

The Honorable Paul E. Kanjorski
2353 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressman Kanjorski:

The Honorable Arlen Specter
711 Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Specter:

I am writing today to seek your help in obtaining authorization and appropriations in the amount of $4.2 million to move a local road to the top of the Francis E. Walter Dam.

The road now runs along the upstream face of Francis Walter dam. When water backs up behind the dam, the road floods. Relocating the road to the top of the dam will improve the safety of the driving public on this roadway. In addition, the relocation gives the Corps greater flexibility to store water to be released later. This will probably result in improved recreational opportunities for fishermen and whitewater paddlers that will benefit the local economy. It also allows for increased water storage during droughts, a real issue during dry seasons like this one. Elected officials, local businesses and residents, fire and rescue groups and area communities are supportive of moving this road on top of the dam.

Thanks to your support and efforts, the 2002 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act contained $300,000 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to perform the initial engineering and design plan for relocating the public access road to the top of the dam. Bidding specifications will be completed by September 30. Construction could begin in fiscal year 2003, at a cost of $4.2 million.

Again, I would appreciate your assistance and support in obtaining authorization and appropriation ($4.2 million) for the construction of a road above the Francis E. Walter Dam.

Please contact Kevin Colburn at American Whitewater (828-252-6482, if you have any questions.


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Lehigh River (PA)

AW has worked with local paddling clubs to improve the recreational value of dam releases on the Lehigh

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