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Tapoco Hydropower Settlement Agreement Results in 10,000 Acres Protected in North Carolina and Tennessee

Little Tennessee River (May 10, 2004) - At a scenic overlook separating Great Smoky Mountains National Park from the Cherokee National Forest, a group of nearly 150 stakeholders gathered for the ceremonial signing of the comprehensive settlement agreement concerning the continued operation of a series of four dams owned by ALCOA Power Generating Inc., a subsidiary of ALOCA Aluminum.

The dams and their reservoirs, located on the Little Tennessee and Cheoah rivers straddling the North Carolina-Tennessee border, were the focus of more than five years of negotiations between ALCOA and numerous stakeholders. The National Park Service Hydropower Assistance Program coordinated with Park staff, as well as the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Office of the Solicitor, and other stakeholders to help forge the agreement.

At the core of the agreement is the protection of nearly 10,000 acres of undeveloped forest lands, "the largest and most important tract east of the Mississippi," according to Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Together, the lands create a vital ecological linkage between the National Park and the National Forest. The agreement has resulted in improved river flows, enhanced river recreation, and the establishment of a mitigation fund of $125,000 annually for the life of the new FERC license (presumably 40 years). The agreement has been touted as an unprecedented "win-win-win" in the southeast in that it is the first of its kind to benefit industry, environmental groups, and government agencies. Other major stakeholders include The Nature Conservancy, American Rivers, National Parks Conservation Association, Tennessee Clean Water Network, Western Carolina Alliance, and the states of North Carolina and Tennessee. For more information, please contact Jeff Duncan, Southeast Regional Rivers Program Manager, Chattanooga, TN, at jeff_duncan@nps.gov or 423-266-1150.


Penobscot Promise

Usually when a project is described as "unprecedented" and "visionary" it isn't either. In the case of the multifaceted plan announced yesterday to remove two dams and improve five others along the Penobscot River to open hundreds of miles of habitat for sea-run fish, the glowing adjectives are appropriate.First, the scope of the project is impressive. To assist the migration of endangered wild Atlantic salmon and other fish, the Veazie and Great Works (located in Old Town) dams will be removed. A fish by-pass will be investigated for the Howland dam, so that structure - a centerpiece of the town - will remain in place although it will cease making power. Fish passage improvements will be made at dams in Orono, Stillwater, Milford and Medway. These efforts will open up 500 miles of habitat on the Penobscot and its tributaries for native fish, including restoring unimpeded access to all of the historic range for striped bass, Atlantic and shortnosed sturgeon and tomcod.

Read More: Bangor Daily News, Sunday October 12, 2003

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