In response to calls by American Whitewater, New England FLOW and the Appalachian Mountain Club, FERC today ordered FirstLight and TransCanada to study the potential for whitewater boating on the Connecticut River at Turner's Falls and Bellows Falls. The companies are seeking to relicense their projects at the Wilder, Bellows Falls, and Vernon dams in New Hampshire and Vermont, and at the Northfield Pumping Station and Turner’s Falls Dam in Massachusetts.
FERC responded to the comments and testimony provided by AW, AMC and FLOW at the scoping meetings last month asking FERC to require the licensee to study the feasibility of providing whitewater releases to enhance or create new paddling opportunities at Sumner Falls and Turner’s Falls, as well as the feasibility of a whitewater park at Bellows Falls. We are also seeking to improve access and camping facilities at each of these projects, study the economic impact of whitewater boating in each of these areas, and study the value of the whitewater resources lost as a result of these dams for the purpose of determining appropriate mitigation. The Connecticut River and Watershed, which includes these projects, has been designated as the nation’s first National Blueway, and an increasing number of paddlers are making multiple-day trips on the Connecticut River.
We look forward to working with FirstLight and TransCanada throughout the licensing process to improve the paddling opportunities along the Connecticut River.