The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is accepting written public comments on the draft
Environmental Impact Statement it prepared as part of the relicensing process for the 3-dam
complex on the Snake River, on the Oregon-Idaho border. These dams and upstream land
management severely impact the once great Snake River in many ways, including impacts to the
incredible class IV Hells Canyon reach immediately downstream.
Below are some of the issues our partner Idaho Rivers United has identified as important in the
Require fish passage: FERC should
immediately require fish passage for spring chinook and steelhead into tributaries within
Hells Canyon, and require fall chinook passage once water quality is sufficiently restored.
Restore clean water: Pollution is concentrated in the pools behind the Hells Canyon dams,
contributing to mercury contamination in fish and creating a health hazard. FERC should
require Idaho Power to meet all state and federal water quality standards in the area
impacted by the dams.
Improve flows: Right now, Idaho Power can quickly and drastically change river levels, which
is very damaging to the ecosystem. FERC should make Idaho Power stop this harmful practice,
implement tighter ramping rate restrictions, and release water from the dams in a way that
benefits salmon and steelhead.
Restore beaches: On an annual basis, the dams hold back 220,000 to 384,000 tons of sand and
gravel. FERC must require Idaho Power to replenish both gravel and sand so that beaches for
river recreation can be restored.
Assess economic benefits: FERC failed to adequately assess the
substantial economic benefits of a restored river. FERC must calculate the regional economic
benefits of restored salmon runs, cleaner water and restored beaches to the recreation and
fishing industries, and to communities.
Many of our northwestern members recently recieved a mailer from
Idaho Rivers United which includes a postcard to send to FERC. We are working
closely with Idaho Rivers United on this issue and encourage our members to send in the
postcard, or to write your own comments regarding Hells Canyon.