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Consensus Reached on Tuckasegee and Nantahala Dam Relicensings (NC)!

Posted: 06/25/2003
by Kevin Colburn

Consensus Reached Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers!

Recently, American Whitewater joined a large group of organizations to sign onto carefully crafted consensus agreements that concluded the negotiations of the Tuckasegee and Nantahala Dam Relicensing Teams. The agreements are the result of 2 years of studies and negotiations that occurred during the several full-day stakeholder meetings held each month. This was a massive time commitment for the many individuals, organizations, and government agencies that participated, and it was worth it.

The consensus agreements describe the mitigation that Duke Power is proposing to provide for operating its 7 dams on the Tuckasegee River and 4 dams on the Nantahala River. The mitigation package will significantly increase the ecological integrity, the economic viability, and the recreational opportunities in Western North Carolina.

For a full account of the agreements, check out the forthcoming Gauleyfest Issue of the American Whitewater Journal or read the Tuckasegee and Nantahala Consensus Agreements themselves. What is lost at this scale of description is all the carefully thought out reasoning behind every detail of these agreements. In summary though, here are some of the highlights of the agreements!

Tuckasegee River:

· Better, more predictable recreation flows on the nearly 30 miles of class I-II+ Main Tuckasegee that balance the needs of boaters, fishermen, and native species throughout the year.
· The removal of Dillsboro Dam, which will reconnect this biologically diverse river, and allow the many species that exist below the dam and not above it to once again populate the upper river.
· 7 annual releases in the 8-mile class III-IV West Fork Tuckasegee, and access provided to the run, beginning in 2006.
· 10 new River Access areas all along the river, many of which could act as nodes for a greenway.
· Better flow information.
· Better minimum instream flows in some reaches.
· Conservation of a critical piece of land.
· Several Fishery Restoration Projects.
· Roughly $1,000,000 total to additional river conservation and water quality projects across both the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers!

Nantahala River:

· Reliable scheduled releases in Nantahala River have been maintained.
· The minimum instream flow in the Upper and Lower Nantahala have been improved, as well as in several tributaries.
· 8 releases and the necessary access provisions are planned for the class III/III+ Upper Nantahala and the Class IV/IV+ Cascades of the Nantahala, in cooperation with anglers that use that reach extensively.
· A USGS gage will be activated that will provide realtime flow information in the Upper and Lower Nantahala.
· An improved commercial boating access put-in for the lower Nantahala.
· In addition, the mitigation of the Nantahala Project includes a portion of the roughly $1,000,000 for river conservation projects, as well as the Dillsboro Dam Removal.

It was Duke Power’s willingness to negotiate in good faith, excellent facilitation, a hardworking and open minded stakeholder group, and a creative and effective process that will, through the consensus agreements described above, make the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Watersheds healthier and happier places to live and recreate in. We are proud to have played a strong role in this process and are excited to share our success with the outdoor recreation and river conservation community.

American Whitewater would like to thank all of the volunteers that participated in the Nantahala and Tuckasegee flow studies, all of the people on the stakeholder team that helped make such a strong and meaningful agreement, Josh Egenolf (our intern that did a great job of researching access options on the West Fork of the Tuck), Steve and Mary Lou our facilitation Gurus, and of course all the folks at Duke Power for being so professional and open minded.

Kevin Colburn
302 Donnybrook Dr
Asheville, NC 28806-9518


Associated Projects

Tuckasegee Relicensing (NC)
AW signed a settlement calling for new dam releases, sweeping conservation measures, new access, and the removal of Dillsboro Dam in North Carolina.