In response to of the state’s draft basin plan for southern Vermont, American Whitewater
and scores of boaters pressed the state to support the expansion of releases on the West River.
Restrictions by the Corps of Engineers and Agency of Natural Resources have led to the
elimination of nearly all scheduled boating opportunities on the West River over the past two
decades, eliminating recreation opportunity and hurting the local economy. AW and its partners
have been working to restore these releases.
Historically, annual spring and fall releases from the Ball Mountain Dam in Jamaica, VT have
drawn thousands of boaters for 2-day release weekends in the spring and fall. Despite the lack of
any site-specific data showing that these infrequent seasonally appropriate releases were
damaging to aquatic habitat, the Corps eliminated all but a single fall release day under
pressure from state and federal resource agencies. The Annual West Fest was the largest annual
gathering of boaters in New England, and the elimination of releases has resulted in an economic
loss of $440,065 for each weekend release cancelled according to a 2005 study.
The Draft Basin Plan revises the 2008 Plan that recommends eliminating releases despite providing
no data to substantiate its claims that the releases resulted in any fish standings or habitat
loss from the Corps’ flood control dam. AW and its members providing comments continue to
press for the restoration of responsible dam management protocols and the enhancement of
recreation opportunities on the West River.