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River Projects: Hydro (Re)Licensing

Projects include: providing technical assistance to power companies, states and local governments, National Park units and recreation and conservation interests about public access, recreational and aesthetic flows, recreational facilities, riparian corridor protection, and historic resource protection in licensing proceedings of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC); assisting with implementation of post-licensing agreements; working with partners to improve the FERC licensing process; and documenting success of activities. We also assist with evaluations of non-FERC hydropower operations. Recent projects involve: new recreational facilities, creation of water trails, enhanced flows, habitat improvements, reduced erosion, lake level restrictions, and dam removal.


examples

resources

Examples:

15 Mile Falls Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. 2077)
$800,000 awarded in grants this year

Connecticut River, NH & VT (January 28, 2005) - As part of the (re)licensing of the 15 Mile Falls Hydroelectric Project, a Settlement Agreement was reached in 1997 creating the Upper Connecticut River Mitigation & Enhancement Fund (MEF). The FERC-issued license came out in April of 2002 incorporating that Agreement. Later that year, the licensee made the initial contribution of over $3.3 Million to the MEF. A Fund Advisory Committee (FAC), made up of 12 representatives including National Park Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, the states of VT and NH and regional NGO’s, meets to consider grant applications for projects within the upper CT river basin. Projects have ranged from dam removals to land protection to fluvial geomorphology studies. The amount of funding available is based on revenues from power generation. In the first year of grant rounds (2003), just under $500,000 was awarded. Last year over $750,000 was awarded. In 2005 the total awards exceed $800,000 and will go to support the following projects:

A three year phased grant of $470,000 to the Passumpsic Valley Land Trust to protect through conservation easements and fee acquisitions, 21 parcels of land along the Passumpsic River in VT. Total shoreline protected is over 45,000 feet.

• $46,000 to the Vermont Council of Trout Unlimited for a project on the Smith Brook in NH to restore fish passage by reconfiguring a culvert with baffles and reconstructing 110 feet of streambank back to natural conditions

• Over $18,000 to the Cledonia County Natural Resources Conservation District to conduct a phase II geomorphological assessment of the Stevens River in Vermont. This will lay the groundwork for a river restoration project and the development of a landowner outreach program.

$98,000 to the John’s River Conservation Group to replace a town owned dam in Whitefield, NH with a natural rock ramp fishway.

For more information, please contact Kevin Mendik, NPS Hydro Program Manager, NE Region, at Kevin_mendik@nps.gov or 617-223-5299.

Settlement Agreement Signed for Four Hydroelectric Facilities

Lewis River, WA (November 30, 2004) – Two licensees, PacifiCorp and Coliwtz PUD, and twenty other parties, including a mix of federal, state, and local agencies, non-governmental organizations, and local citizens, signed an agreement for the Lewis River Relicensing Project. This agreement details a complex plan where anadromous fish will be transported around three high dams to reopen access of up to 174 miles of productive fish habitat. It includes a $12 million fund to purchase land and/or easements to protect wildlife habitat and allow for appropriate recreation. The agreement also calls for $20 million in recreation improvements and developments along the Lewis River.

As a part of the recreation negotiation team, the National Park Service (NPS) worked closely with national, state, and local recreation groups to negotiate for construction of new trails, fishing platforms, a non-motorized boating access site, interpretation enhancements, and management of dispersed camping. NPS assisted partners to assure recreation access on the new lands that will be acquired for conservation purposes. For more information, please contact Susan Rosebrough, RTCA/Hydro Project Manager, Seattle, Washington, at susan_rosebrough@nps.gov or (206) 220-4121.

Over $825,000 to go to VT and NH conservation projects under a FERC Settlement Agreement

Connecticut River Watershed to continue to receive benefits. Hanover, NH (January 8, 2004) - Members of the Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund Advisory Committee met earlier this month to recommend awarding over $825,000 in the 2003 Grant Round pursuant to the Fund set up through the relicensing of the 15 Mile Falls Hydroelectric Project (FERC 2077) on the Connecticut River in New Hampshire and Vermont. The Settlement Agreement setting up the Fund was signed in September of 1997 and FERC issued a new license for the project in April of 2002. The National Park Service was a party to that agreement and Kevin Mendik, of the Northeast Region Hydropower Assistance Program, sits on the Fund Advisory Committee. (The USFWS was also a party and has a representative on the Committee.) The 2002 Grant Round awarded over $490,000. The amount available to be awarded is based on a percentage of profits from hydro generation, so a high water year like 2003 will translate into more money available for the 2004 Grant Round. Among the projects funded in 2003 were a dam removal on the East Branch of the White River in Vermont, the purchase of a 79 acre riverfront parcel by a Vermont municipality for recreation facilities, acquisition of fee lands and conservation easements in VT and NH, a high school project to continue and expand a vernal pools inventory, a middle school project to identify structures within a local watershed that prevent movement of salmonids, and implementation of a river restoration project. In total, 22 projects were funded including projects continued from the previous year. For more information, please contact Kevin Mendik, at kevin_mendik@nps.gov or (617) 223-5299.

Things Are Flowing In The Upper Peninsula

Water Releases from Hydropower Dam Relicensing. WI/MI Upper Peninsula (Update July 7, 2003) - The National Park Service (NPS), through its Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA), has been involved in hydropower relicensings throughout the upper Midwest since 1990, resulting in multiple successes for recreational flows. Some highlights of flow updates in Wisconsin/Michigan's Upper Peninsula include:

  • A new white water opportunity on the Chippewa R. at Jim Falls (WI) which started July 12th. Higher, steady flows will be provided at the same site between April 1 - May 31st.

  • A new flow regime on the Black River at Hatfield (MI) will provide more water to the peak flow level release and less to the down ramp as well as better methodology for managing the release.

  • Higher, steadier flows have been provided on the Menominee River at Niagara, the Paint River at Horse Race Rapids, and Peshtigo River at Spring Rapids (all in WI).

  • The Wisconsin River at Rhinelander (WI) will have releases July 21, August 3, and August 9. An increase from past years.

Hydropower dams that are privately or municipally owned require an operating license, issued for 30-50 years, from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The NPS works collaboratively with the hydropower applicant, other state and federal resource agencies, local communities, and interest groups to make license article recommendations. On each relicensing project (a process which takes at least five years) NPS focuses on conserving riparian lands and enhancing recreational opportunities while respecting the river culture, ecosystem and economies. For more information, please contact Angie Tornes, NPS RTCA, Outdoor Recreation Planner, angie_tornes@nps.gov or 414-297-3605.

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Boaters, Hikers and Skiers Can Now Enjoy New Recreation Facilities

New facilities result from agency/public involvement in FERC relicensing of a hydroelectric project on the Menominee River. Menominee River, WI/MI (February 2003) - Recreational facilities worth $220,000 finished being installed under a plan developed by recreationists, local stakeholders, state and federal agencies, and Stora Enso Paper Company, owner of the hydropower facility as part of the new license application for Little Quinnessec Hydroelectric Project. The plan includes:

  • A boat launch with barrier-free fishing pier, picnic area, and restrooms, all linked by a new trail;

  • 4 barrier-free bank fishing areas;

  • improvements in a hiking/cross-country ski trail;

  • improvements to whitewater craft launching area: formal parking lot; improved launch; barrier-free trail, restroom and changing facilities;

  • improved portage trail; and

  • improved signage.

RTCA staff facilitated involvement of local boating groups and negotiations for the plan. Staff also coordinated an instream recreational flow study at this location; flows are much improved for boaters as a result. Other partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of Natural Resources of Michigan and Wisconsin, Badger State Boating Society, Green Bay Paddlers United, University of Wisconsin Hoofers, Argosy Rafting Company, and Michigan Hydropower Coalition. Please contact Angie Tornes at angie_tornes@nps.gov or (414) 297-3605.

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Conservation and Recreation Gains for Red Cedar River via Hydro Settlement Agreement

Donation of 244 Acres along River, Flow Changes, and Recreational Facility Enhancement Included: Menomonie, WI (September 19, 2002) - A signed settlement agreement for two hydroelectric projects on the Red Cedar River includes numerous benefits to the environment and recreation users, including: Transfer of 244 acres of riparian land to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WI DNR) by the licensee for protection and public use. The land is contiguous with the Red Cedar State Rail-Trail and the State's Chippewa River Bottoms Wildlife Area. Operational changes will result in improved recreational boating navigability in the 17-mile segment below the furthest downstream dam to the Chippewa River and improved habitat for fish, mussels, and other aquatic life. Recreational provisions for the projects include improved canoe portages, boat ramps, fishing access, shoreline trails, and a recreational/historical brochure.

Establishment of a $125,000 Enhancement Fund to be used for research, water quality education, or additional mitigation. NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program advised on flows that enhance recreation while protecting aquatic habitat flows, riparian land protection, recreational facility planning, and settlement agreement negotiations. Other stakeholders include: Xcel Energy (Northern States Power Co. - Wisconsin), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, WIDNR, City of Menomonie, and recreation interests and property owners. Lower Chippewa Restoration Coalition, Inc., Tainter Lake Sportsmen's Club, Dunn County Fish and Game Club, and the Tainter/Menomin Lake Improvement Association, Inc. For more information, please contact Angie Tornes, 414-297-3605.

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Cheat Lake Park and Trail Dedication Part of Hydropower Relicensing Agreement

4.5 mile rail trail and park created through relicensing partnership: Monongahela County, WV (June 7, 2000)-At a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the 4.5 mile Cheat Lake Rail-Trail and Park were opened to the public. This trail and park were created as part of the agreement for renewal of the hydropower license held by Allegheny Energy Supply. Partners during the relicensing process included Cheat Lake Environment and Recreation Association, Friends of Cheat Lake Trail, League of Women Voters, WV Division of Natural Resources, and adjacent property owners. The NPs Rivers & Trails Program (RTCA) provided technical expertise to the group and provided comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. For more information, please contact: Peggy Pings, Rivers & Trails Program, Allegheny Field Office, 304-293-2941

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Upper Hudson/Sacandaga River Hydropower Relicensing Offer of Settlement

NPS provides assistance in negotiating Offer of Settlement in New York State: The NPs, through the Regional Director, Northeast Region, has signed the Upper Hudson/Sacandaga River Offer of Settlement. This agreement represents over three and a half years of negotiations by numerous parties, and was achieved despite a change in ownership of the power company and the state's deregulation process. The agreement covers four hydropower relicensing projects, thus allowing the stakeholders to cover the entire Sacandaga River watershed along with a critical stretch of the Hudson River at its Sacandaga River confluence.

In addition to the recreational facility enhancements listed below, the licensee will contribute $1.845 Million Dollars during the term of the license to be apportioned between lake, whitewater, fisheries and riverine interests. Recreational facility enhancements include a scenic overlook with interpretive signage and a canoe portage that will link the Great Sacandaga Lake with the Stewart's Bridge Reservoir. Another canoe portage will be constructed to allow for passage around the Stewart's Bridge Dam and the put in will also serve as a new whitewater put-in for the heavily used Class III stretch from that dam to the Hudson River confluence. That new put-in will support commercial and private operations, and will tie into significant increases in scheduled whitewater releases throughout the boating season. A new take out will also be developed at the confluence. At the Hudson River Project, two handicapped access boat launching areas will be developed along with two new portage trails and island campsites. For more information on this project please contact Kevin Mendik, Boston, MA at 617-223-5299.

Settlement Agreement Reached on Maine's Largest Hydro Project

Significant resources to be protected: The Forks, Maine (July 25, 2001) - The National Park Service, through its RTCA Hydro Program, signed a Settlement Agreement which concluded over two years of negotiations as part of the relicensing of the Indian Pond Hydroelectric Project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is expected to issue a license for the project in 2002. The Harris Station dam is the starting point for approximately 60,000 white water boating trips annually through the Kennebec Gorge's class IV-V rapids. The gorge is one of the state's most outstanding natural features and supports a native brook trout fishery. Indian Pond, located just above the dam, is also known as one of the state's best small mouth bass fisheries. The agreement will result in the permanent protection of over 1,645 acres of land through a donation by the project's licensee, Florida Power & Light. In addition, up to 2,152 acres of wetlands will be restored through restoration or conservation easements. Over $650,000 will be put into a Fisheries Habitat Restoration Fund. Recreational use fees will be eliminated for private boaters and fishermen and significantly reduced for commercial white water users. The agreement also guarantees white water flows and dedicated flows for fishing, as well as an increase in the permanent minimum flow of over 115% from current levels. The NPs worked closely with the USFWS, the Maine Department of Conservation, the Maine Division of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and the State Planning Office, all of which were signatories to the agreement. Several conservation organizations also worked for years towards the agreement and signed it, including Trout Unlimited, the Appalachian Mountain Club, American Whitewater, the Maine Professional River Outfitters, NE FLOW and the Forks Chamber of Commerce. For more information, please contact Kevin Mendik, Boston Support Office Hydro Program Manager, Boston, MA at 617-223-5299.

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Settlement Agreement Signed for Three PacifiCorp Dams on Idaho's Bear River

Trout Restoration, Land Acquisition, and Riparian Area Fencing, Increased Instream Flows, and Establishment of Whitewater Boating Flows: Bear River, ID (August 28, 2002) - The National Park Service (NPs), US Fish & Wldlife Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service, American Whitewater, Idaho Rivers United, the State of Idaho, and numerous other parties signed a settlement agreement with PacifiCorp, the licensee for the Grace, Cove and Oneida dams on the Bear River in Idaho. Prior to this agreement, the dams dewatered several miles of habitat for Bonneville cutthroat trout and blocked the use of Black Canyon by whitewater boaters, a situation that will now change beginning as early as next year if accepted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Key provisions of the agreement include: establishment of higher base flows; a study of Bonneville cutthroat trout habitat and population and aerial analysis of their habitat; a study of the feasibility of decommissioning the Cove Dam; funding for land acquisition, habitat restoration and BLM recreation facilities; and a matching grant fund for landowner fencing of riparian areas. Of special concern to the NPs was the establishment of recreational boating flows in Black Canyon, a Class IV run near Salt Lake City. With acceptance of the agreement by the FERC, up to 16 days of scheduled boating flows may be provided each year. For more information, please contact Susan Rosebrough, Hydropower Program Manager, Seattle, Washington, 206-220-4121.

 

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