Seattle, WA For the first time in 80 years, more natural flows will surge down the North Fork Skokomish River today when Tacoma Power releases water from its Cushman hydroelectric project. The 240 cubic feet per second of increased flows are a crucial step in restoring the river’s health.
For approximately 50 years, Tacoma Power totally dewatered the river below the project during low-flow periods. More recently, the company has left only a trickle of water flowing in the North Fork Skokomish, harming the river ecosystem and the culture of the Skokomish Indian Tribe.
American Rivers worked for more than ten years to improve the operations of the Cushman project through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s dam relicensing process.
Brett Swift, Deputy Director of the Northwest office of American Rivers, made the following statement:
“The essence of a river is its water, its flow. It is wonderful to see more natural flows in the North Fork Skokomish. This is the first step toward restoring the river’s lifeblood.”
“This is an example of the kinds of steps we need to take around the region to restore Puget Sound and its salmon runs. Rivers like the Skokomish that feed the Sound are critical to the Sound’s clean water, fish and wildlife, and overall health.”
“Much has changed since the Cushman project was originally licensed in 1924. Today, the public strongly supports protections for clean water and fish and wildlife. This event today symbolizes a new era of river restoration in the Northwest.”
“Tacoma Power reaped an enormous economic benefit at the expense of the river, its fish and wildlife, and the Skokomish Tribe for over 80 years. A company that profits at the expense of the river, a public resource, has a responsibility to fix some of the damage it causes. That is happening today.”
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.