Restored Flows Boost Health of North Fork Skokomish River
Statement by Brett Swift of American RiversMarch 7th, 2008
<P>Brett Swift, American Rivers, 503-827-8648</P>
<P>Amy Kober, American Rivers, 206-213-0330 x23 </P>
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.”