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What is the Army Corps Doing on the West River (VT)?

Posted: 11/25/2003
by Jason Robertson

On November 24, 2003, a reporter for Vermont's Rutland Herald, Peter Crabtree, reported ( that "Boating groups are protesting a decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restrict whitewater releases on the West River. The Army Corps cut the fall release at the Ball Mountain Dam from two days to one in September, affecting hundreds of paddlers who turn out for the annual event. The Army Corps also intends to cut back flow levels for the spring release in April, making the river less challenging for whitewater enthusiasts."

The article attributes the cuts to a change in policy that would protect the river's water quality and ecology by ensuring that releases resemble flows under a natural hydrograph.

The article correctly observes that American Whitewater is critical of the agencies' approach because the river is being artificially regulated, and quotes AW Board Member Tom Chrisptopher and a recipient of Perception's River Conservation of the Year Award, "'Many times throughout the course of the year there are extremely high releases that may be 3,000, 4,000, 5,000 or 6,000 cubic feet per second,' he said. 'Yet the state of Vermont and U.S. Fish and Wildlife have nothing to say about that. It's just done because the mandate of the Army Corps is to protect life and property downstream.'" AW continues to support scheduled releases of 1500 CFS and a restoration of the original release schedule; this release schedule is good for the economy, mitigatees for lost recreation opportunities from the construction of the dam, and is consistent with the natural and dynamic flows of the river.

State and federal officials will meet with American Whitewater in the next several weeks to discuss the issue.

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West River (VT)
Paddlers have long enjoyed and defended the few recreational releases on Vermont's West River. New hydro proposals may offer opportunities or impacts.