Landmark Settlement Agreement Signed to Restore Flows to Connecticut River (MA)
American Whitewater and its partners in the relicensing of the hydropower dam on the Connecticut River signed a landmark settlement agreement that will restore flows to a dewatered section of the river in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. This historic agreement will reverse more than a century of flow diversions that blocked fish passage, destroyed aquatic habitat, and eliminated virtually all opportunities to boat on this section of the Connecticut River. For more than a decade, American Whitewater was joined in this effort by Appalachian Mountain Club, New England Flow, Zoar Outdoor, and Crab Apple Whitewater.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, FirstLight will be required to restore flows to the river that will provide sufficient flow for fish spawning, passage and habitat for federally protected endangered and migratory fish species. These flows will also provide whitewater boating opportunities throughout the spring months. In addition, the settlement agreement requires whitewater boating days during the summer and fall months, providing boating opportunities and flow information on this currently dewatered river reach for more than 120 days annually.
While we celebrate this milestone in the relicensing effort on the Connecticut River, more work remains to be done. We are hopeful that a recreation settlement agreement addressing river access, rock climbing, hiking, portage, paddler campsites, and other recreation opportunities will be finalized in the coming months. We are also supporting efforts by our Tribal partners the Elnu Abenaki Tribe, the Chaubunagungamaug Band of Nipmuck Indians and The Nolumbeka Project. to finalize an agreement protecting cultural resources, artifacts and uses. In addition to our work on the hydro dam at Turners Falls, we are also working to restore flows and recreation on the upstream dams at Wilder, Bellows Falls, and Vernon. While these efforts take years, the benefits endure beyond our lifetimes.
By Bob Nasdor