In 1984, American Whitewater (Pete Skinner) joined Ron Smith of Adirondack River Outfitters and his attorney Ron Wilson in working to block the construction and licensing of two dams on the Black River near Watertown. When AW got involved the Glen Park Dam was already under construction, but together with ARO we convinced FERC to halt the construction. We shared with FERC that the dam they were building was twice as large as their license allowed and that thousands of paddlers would be impacted by the dam, which triggered a full evidentiary hearing by FERC. Ultimately we took the case to federal court, which put the dam builder in a position to negotiate a settlement. Based on negotiations, eventually an agreement was reached in 1986 that required releases throughout the recreation season, scenic mitigation, and opportunities for additional releases based on demand. In 1995 the dam and others in the same project were licensed based on yet another robust settlement agreement with AW and other stakeholders.
The Black River in New York was one of the first major successes of American Whitewater’s hydropower program. It remains a model of how paddlers can defend rivers from harm.
Read a blow by blow of the process in the AW Journal here.
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