Greenfield, MA – The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC), Appalachian Mountain Club, American Whitewater and other recreation partners thank everyone who participated in last weekend’s Portage Parade in Turners Falls, MA. Parade marchers proved a 20-minute walkable portage around the Turners Falls Dam is possible. “The event sends a message to dam owner FirstLight Power,” said CRC Executive Director, Andrew Fisk, “that a better recreation plan, including improvements to this portage route, is needed as part of their current application for a renewed operating license.” A second Portage Parade is planned for this Saturday, July 17 in N. Walpole, NH around the Bellows Falls Dam. Additional details and links to register can be found at ctriver.org/events.
“If the owners of the dams took a different approach and were more welcoming, it would go a long way both in terms of their perception and in the ease of recreation for everyone to go around the dam and travel down the river,” notes parade-marcher Tim Lewis, who has paddled the length of the Connecticut River, a journey many people travel to the region to experience. This year presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to influence the operating licenses for five Connecticut River hydro facilities and improve recreational access and the protection of wildlife.
You are invited to bring signs and noisemakers and join the Bellows Falls Portage Parade on Saturday, July 17 from 11:00am to 12:30pm. The event will start with a brief gathering outdoors to learn more about the issues, followed by a public parade along the existing portage route. The event will focus on much needed upgrades to portage routes for paddlers around the Bellows Falls Dam as an example of recreation investments that would benefit local communities. Registration is encouraged and appreciated but not required: https://portage-paddle-parade-bellows-falls.eventbrite.com
Since late 2012, five hydroelectric facilities in the heart of the Connecticut River have been in the process of renewing their operating licenses in a process known as relicensing. Great River Hydro owns the Wilder, Bellows Falls, and Vernon Dams in Vermont and New Hampshire. FirstLight Power owns Turners Falls Dam and Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage in Massachusetts. Together, these five hydro facilities impact more than 175 miles of the Connecticut River. Once issued, their licenses will be in place and dictate the terms of how these hydro facilities will operate for the next 30-50 years.
Since 1952, Connecticut River Conservancy has been the voice for the Connecticut River watershed, from source to sea. They collaborate with partners across four states to protect and advocate for your rivers and educate and engage communities. They bring people together to prevent pollution, improve habitat, and promote enjoyment of your river and its tributary streams. Healthy rivers support healthy economies. To learn more about CRC, or to make a contribution to help protect your rivers, visit ctriver.org.