save the skykomish
Environmental stewardship seems to be trending in recent years and I’m not referring to #Twitter #trending. There’s more and more attention being given to habitat protection and restoration for wildlife and fish—more than ever before—as we right the wrongs of the past. So why then, in this day and age where unnecessary dams are being torn down would another be proposed? Kinda makes you shake your head in disbelief. Kinda makes you outraged with disgust.
The Skykomish River is a jewel of a mountain stream that grows in size as it tumbles toward Puget Sound. It provides pristine spawning grounds for endangered wild steelhead and salmon, as well as bull trout and other native species. It is one of very few remaining undammed rivers in the region/country/world, but that will change if the Snohomish County PUD has anything to say about it.
Well, Andrea Matzke has something to say about it. In fact she leads an organization tasked with opposing this proposed dam. Some of the opponents’ concerns, she writes, include:
- Extensive destruction of protected salmon and trout habitat would hurt fish populations
- Reduced instream flows would be dangerously low to salmon and steelhead migrating downstream
- Generation turbines and tailrace would destroy salmon spawning habitat
- Highway 2 traffic, already extremely congested at times, would be halted for construction vehicles and equipment for three years. Businesses relying on Highway 2 traffic concerned for their livelihoods.
- The economic value doesn’t add up and the power generated would cost 3.5 times the power on the open market
- SnoPUD’s hydro track record with new hydro is poor – Youngs Creek lost over a million dollars last year and applied to FERC for financial exemption because of the loss, which puts part of the cost of their losses on taxpayers.
- Power generation curve of the dam project based on river flows is almost exactly the opposite of power demand in Snohomish County
- The hydro project would only generate at capacity in the spring, when there is a surplus of energy in the Northwest, and demand is at its lowest.
- With the except of December, project would produce minimal or no power during peak power demand
- SnoPUD’s recent acquisition of a certificate to sell renewable power to California concerns Washingtonians who don’t want state’s protected resources sold off to our states
- Homeowners would be forced off their land via eminent domain
- If a dam is allowed on a State Scenic Waterway and NPCC protected area for such a small amount of power, no river is safe from dams.
- SnoPUD has misrepresented data and level of opposition to media and FERC
Please take a moment to read the information provided on the Save the Sky River website. There’s an important meeting coming up next week. If you’re local, please attend the meeting.
I rarely post topics like this, but this one I can’t let pass unannounced.
I was recently contacted by a friend who I went to high school with. She wrote me to let me know that she recently gave up a good-paying job in LA to move back to the Pacific Northwet for the sole purpose of fighting a dam proposal on her favorite river, the Skykomish, on which she learned to fly fish.
The lower Skykomish is only 8 miles from where I live and I’ve fished it many times for steelhead, having even been successful on one occasion. I also caught a bull trout/Dolly Varden once, so I guess that’s two successes. But I digress…
The Snohmish County PUD has filed for a preliminary permit to build a small hydroelectric dam on an upper stretch of the Skykomish. It’s just insane to even be thinking about adding dams in this day and age where there is widespread opposition to any structures that block fish passage and flowing water. This dam would produce an insignificant about of hydro power but would damage a river that is only one of 4 rivers designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers by the Washington state legislature.
This damn idea is bad and needs to be stopped.
Thanks for your help.