Monday, October 11, 2010

Public Comment Period Coming to an End for Ashton Dam Project

PacificCorp is in the midst of preparing to execute a rehabilitation project for the Ashton Dam on the lower Henry's Fork. Needless to say, any work on that dam (the largest dam on the lower river) is of interest to fly fishers who value the river.

The Henry's Fork Foundation (HFF) has been working with PacificCorp to represent the interest of anglers in the matter, but the company is also at the tail end of a public comment period (the comment period ends October 15). As part of the public comment period, you can check out PacificCorp's technical documentation about the project and send them an email with your thoughts at

HFF has been all over this project from the beginning. They deserve major kudos for being vigilant stewards of the river. The worries associated with this work relate to the sediment trapped behind Ashton Dam that could make its way into the tailwater below. Here are HFF's comments:
The Henry’s Fork Foundation is concerned about sediment movement from the reservoir pool to the Henry’s Fork downstream of Ashton Dam. There are two key times when this could potentially occur. The first event is when the bypass tunnel tap is completed in late December 2010, and the reservoir is drawn down to 5130 feet elevation for the first time in nearly 100 years. The second event will be during spring runoff in 2012, during which time the reservoir will be at the low pool level, 5130 feet, for dam reconstruction. HFF is also concerned about fluctuations in flow below the dam during drawdowns, refills, and various other times during the project. The Water Quality Management Plan outlines actions that would be taken to address unacceptable levels of sediment movement and turbidity. It will be absolutely critical that communication between the various entities involved is open and timely during the December 2010 drawdown and spring 2012 runoff events.
But HFF also seems pretty happy with PacificCorp's handling of the project so far.
PacifiCorp staff have been cooperating with Henry’s Fork Foundation staff to address our concerns. We have confidence they will proceed with the utmost caution during the project. Regardless, we encourage you to let PacifiCorp know how important the Henry’s Fork River is below Ashton Dam for both rainbow trout and brown trout spawning and rearing, not to mention the value as a recreational fishery.
So drop them an email, or you can snail mail your comments to:
PacifiCorp Energy
Hydro Operations
Ashton Remediation
825 NE Multnomah, Suite 1500
Portland, OR 97232

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