Developer Ends Effort to Build Hydropower Project on Ernie's Gorge (WA)

posted October 13, 2016
by Thomas O'Keefe

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In an important victory for Ernie’s Gorge, we learned earlier today that Black Canyon Hydro LLC was withdrawing its application for the Black Canyon Hydropower Project, FERC P-14110 (notice of withdrawal of application). This project would have dewatered Ernie’s Gorge by putting the North Fork Snoqualmie River in a pipe to generate electricity. The project would have severely impacted native rainbow and cutthroat trout, posed a risk to the City of Snoqualmie’s water supply, and irreversibly harmed a world-class kayak run.
 
American Whitewater has been actively engaged in the regulatory proceeding for the past 5 years and we wish to thank the many organizations who partnered with us in fighting this project along with resource agencies who recognized the importance of this river for the community. In addition, dozens of whitewater paddlers weighed in throughout the proceeding—you made a difference!
 
American Whitewater believes that the North Fork Snoqualmie should remain in its natural free-flowing condition and industrial development of this canyon is not in the public interest. Ernie's Gorge is a special place, where a number of state and federal agencies have formally recognized its value. The US Forest Service found this segment of the river eligible for the federal Wild and Scenic system, and recommended it for designation. Additionally, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council identified it as an area that is protected from hydropower development. The river also forms the border for the Department of Natural Resources Mt. Si Natural Resources Conservation Area, which includes some of the best remaining intact old-growth riparian forest at low elevation in the western Cascades. Finally, the lands along the river are protected by a conservation easement held by King County that specifically prohibits hydropower projects of the scale proposed.
 
Despite these protections, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allowed a developer to actively pursue this site for 5 years wasting considerable resources on a project that never made sense. In our continued effort to permanently protect the North Fork Snoqualmie from future hydropower development we will be seeking regulatory reform to limit issuance of permits for sites that are clearly unsuitable for hydropower development. We will also be seeking permanent durable protection for this river from hydropower development.
 
In the meantime, go out and enjoy the river and if you took time to write a letter or attend a public meeting raise that brown claw high and proud. We did it.
Thomas O'Keefe
3537 NE 87th St.
Seattle, WA 98115
Phone: 425-417-9012


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