American Whitewater Opposes Hydropower Development on North Fork Snoqualmie (WA)

posted July 26, 2012
by Thomas O'Keefe

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American Whitewater joined Alpine Lakes Protection Society, American Rivers, North Cascades Conservation Council, The Mountaineers, and Washington Wild in filing joint comments opposed to the development of a hydropower project on the North Fork Snoqualmie that would dewater Ernie's Gorge.

American Whitewater is opposed to the Project due to the impacts that would result from damming and dewatering one of the region’s most treasured free-flowing rivers. American Whitewater recognize that hydropower is an important source of energy and have supported projects to improve generation efficiency and new generation at sites that are appropriate for development.  This project will not improve efficiency and is not an appropriate site for new development. Rather, this proposed dam would bring new and unacceptable impacts to a river of high value to the region and state, while providing unneeded and only intermittent energy generation.   As stated by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, the “[h]igh value of some streams cannot be compensated by mitigation, outweighing any potential hydropower benefits.” 
The key to recognizing the promise of increased hydropower generation is choosing the right sites. The North Fork Snoqulamie River is simply an inappropriate river to consider for new hydropower generation. The proposed Project is contrary to local, state and federal laws, policies, and comprehensive plans. The proposed Project site is on a reach of the river that has been recommended to Congress by the USDA Forest Service as a Wild and Scenic River, is within the Washington State Department of Natural Resources Mt. Si Natural Resources Conservation Area, and is identified as a Protected Area from hydropower development by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. The Project is also inconsistent with the King County Code, King County Comprehensive Plan, King County Shoreline Master Plan, and a conservation easement purchased by King County with the specific goal “to prevent any use of the forestland that will significantly impair or interfere with its conservation value.” 
photo credit: Shane Robinson
Thomas O'Keefe
3537 NE 87th St.
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 425-417-9012

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