FERC Lets Northeast Paddlers Down
Many paddlers are contacting AW about the Ausable Chasm, which was supposed to be opened to paddling for Memorial Day weekend based on a whitewater recreation plan filed in November 2009. All FERC needs to do is publish a simple letter accepting the plan, yet for the past six months they have failed to do so. The power company, New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG), is keeping their gates locked until FERC accepts the plan and formally requires them to grant public access.
The plan unethically proposes to lock paddlers out of the river from November first through May each year, which is consistent with a FERC decision allowing NYSEG to do so. NYSEG sought to be the only power company in the Nation allowed to totally block public access to a river, and AW fought hard for a decade to secure nationally consistent year-round access to the river. FERC split the baby and granted access for half the year, and allowed NYSEG to prohibit access for the other half. This controversy however, is over, and all that is needed is a one page letter from FERC to end a decade of conflict and open a spectacular river to public enjoyment.
With the Class IV+ Ausable at a perfect boating flow for the Holiday weekend, we regretfully report that the gate remains locked. We have asked FERC to "approve the whitewater access plan for the Rainbow Falls Project (Project # 2835), but to no avail. We ask that paddlers send FERC a quick comment requesting long overdue access to the Ausable River right away.