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 email@example.com or 423-266-1150.
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.
Daily News, Sunday October 12, 2003