New license summaries outline plans for restoration, recreation at two of largest hydropower dams in northeast

Photo by American Whitewater. Deerfield No. 4

Summary information on wildlife protection, habitat restoration and recreation enhancement is now available for both the Deerfield River and for the Fifteen Mile Falls project on the Connecticut River. These summaries highlight key components of hydropower flow release licenses and settlements for two of the largest hydro projects in the northeast. These two summaries were prepared by Susan Taft and are the result of a partnership between the Hydropower Reform Coalition (HRC) and the River Management Society (RMS).

“We’re so glad to continue to partner with RMS to provide resources that are helpful for on-the-ground (or water) river managers, advocates, researchers, and enthusiasts,” said HRC Associate National Director Colleen McNally-Murphy. “Our mission at the Hydropower Reform Coalition is to protect, enhance, and restore America’s rivers, watersheds, and communities affected by hydropower operations; fundamental to this is ensuring citizen access to the information necessary to understand and engage in hydropower licensing and license implementation. The settlement agreements for the Deerfield and Fifteen Mile Falls projects are especially important to highlight because they were both ground-breaking in their own ways, and we hope these summaries are useful for anyone interested in learning more about these projects.”

Photo by Great River Hydro. Connecticut River below Moore Dam. Fifteen Mile Falls Project.

The Fifteen Mile Falls summary addresses river flows, reservoir levels, protections and enhancement for fish and wildlife and permanent land conservation of almost 12,000 acres that impacts the Connecticut River both upstream and downstream of the project. One of the more significant agreements is the establishment of a river enhancement fund of up to $17 million and the agreement that the funds would be spent on mitigation to support aquatic and land conservancy instead of studies.

The Deerfield River Settlement agreement was the first major relicensing agreement in the northeast and the second agreement ever signed in the U.S. Signed in 1994, it became the model for re-licensing agreements that followed across the country that brought together a diversity of groups interested in protecting fisheries, wildlife habitat, water-based recreation, land protection and water quality to work with Federal Energy Regulation Commission staff and project owners.

RMS and HRC partner to create and update these summaries on dozens of rivers with hydropower infrastructure across the country to help local residents understand plans and provisions affecting public use and access. The original license documents can be long and cumbersome, so authors of these summaries distill the information that matters most to stakeholders, such as impacts to recreation, wildlife and natural habitat. A library of license summaries is available on the RMS website as well as on the HRC website. To request a license summary, please email rms(at)river-management.org.