Greenfield, MA – Join the Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC), Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), American Whitewater and other recreation partners at two public events to tell hydropower companies you want better access to the Connecticut River. Two Portage Parades will focus on much needed upgrades to portage routes for paddlers around the Bellows Falls and Turners Falls Dams as examples of recreation investments that would benefit local communities. The events will start with a brief gathering outdoors to learn more about the issues, followed by a public parade along proposed shorter and improved portage routes. Participants are encouraged to bring signs and noise makers to the Turners Falls, MA portage parade on July 10 and the Bellows Falls, VT portage parade on July 17. Additional details and links to register can be found at ctriver.org/events.
“This is your opportunity to speak up for the river and call for investments that match the recreation needs of the 21st century,” says CRC River Steward Andrea Donlon. “These hydro companies are using the public’s river and we need to highlight recreation investments they should be making as part of new operating licenses that will be finalized soon and will remain in place for the next 50 years.”
Hydroelectric facilities like the Turners Falls and Bellows Falls Dams create obstacles to river recreation. Hydro companies are required to accommodate for recreation as part of their operating licenses. “Excessively long portages around these dams and poorly maintained put-ins are examples of the lack of investment the companies are making in publicly accessible recreation. Our local economies would be enhanced with functional and effective access to rivers. The river offers incredible opportunities for boating, fishing, swimming, paddling, bird watching, and quiet contemplation,” says Kristen Sykes, AMC Director of Southern New England Conservation Projects and Partnerships. In addition to local river users, the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail (CRPT) brings paddlers and river recreationists from across New England to the area who utilize outdoor outfitters, restaurants, hotels, B&B’s, and more as they paddle the length of the longest river in New England. Improved portages and other recreation resources would attract more people to the region. The CRPT is a unique, water-based trail that includes a series of primitive campsites and river access points spanning 400+ miles of the Connecticut River through NH, VT, MA and CT.
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. Both companies applied for renewed operating licenses for these five facilities in December that, once issued, will be in place and dictate the terms of how these hydro facilities will operate for the next 30-50 years. “It’s critical that we all speak up NOW in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to influence these operating licenses,” says says CRC River Steward Kathy Urffer.
About Connecticut River Conservancy
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 rivers, visit ctriver.org.
About Appalachian Mountain Club
The Appalachian Mountain Club is dedicated to the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the outdoors. www.outdoors.org
About American Whitewater
American Whitewater is a national non-profit 501©(3) river conservation organization founded in 1954 with approximately 6,000 members and 100 local-based affiliate clubs, representing whitewater enthusiasts across the nation. American Whitewater’s mission is to protect and restore America’s whitewater rivers and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely. The organization is the primary advocate for the preservation and protection of whitewater rivers throughout the United States, and connects the interests of human-powered recreational river users with ecological and science-based data to achieve the goals within its mission.