Paddlers will soon enjoy more whitewater opportunities in New York as a new agreement between whitewater boating advocates and hyrdropower companies will double scheduled whitewater boating releases on New York’s Mongaup River.
According to the whitewater advocacy group American Whitewater, they have reached a Settlement Agreement on the relicensing of three hydropower dams on the Mongaup River that will double scheduled whitewater boating releases below the Rio Dam in Forestburgh, New York.
The comprehensive Settlement Agreement was signed with Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, owner/operator of the Rio, Mongaup Falls, and Swinging Bridge hydroelectric projects, along with USFWS, NPS, NYDEC, TU, and lake homeowner groups.
The agreement will expand recreational boating opportunities in the river and on reservoirs, protect instream flows for aquatic habitat, remove Black Brook Dam, protect endangered species, and protect flows on the Wild & Scenic Delaware River.
Bob Nasdor, Northeast Stewardship & Legal Director with American Whitewater, celebrated the Settlement Agreement as a culmination of four years of advocacy as part of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) relicensing of the Mongaup River hydroelectric projects.
“The Settlement Agreement is a big win for whitewater paddlers, anglers, lake owners, and everyone working to protect the river ecosystem,” said Nasdor. The Settlement Agreement will assure that the new FERC license for the projects will protect all river uses for the next 50 years.
Throughout the FERC relicensing process, AW worked in partnership with affiliates Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and Kayak & Canoe Club of New York (KCCNY) to advocate for the protection, restoration, and enjoyment of the Mongaup River. Over the past four years, AW, AMC, and KCCNY have attended numerous meetings and filed written comments on environmental studies, assisted with the completion of a whitewater boating flow study, and participated in settlement negotiations resulting in the filing of the Settlement Agreement on May 28.
The Settlement Agreement, which must still be accepted by FERC, will result in the following recreational enhancements that will provide expanded whitewater boating opportunities on the Mongaup River:
– Scheduled whitewater boating releases will increase from 15 to 30 days annually
– The number of higher volume boating releases will increase from 7 to 20 days annually (2-barrel days)
– Boatable flows in the natural river bypassed reach will be provided on 10 days annually (1-barrel days)
– Two-day advance notification of unscheduled generation
– Improved river access at Rio Dam
The Mongaup River is a highly valued whitewater boating resource that is enjoyed by thousands of paddlers each year in search of a predictable and enjoyable boating opportunity that is accessible to paddlers of varying abilities.
The Mongaup draws boaters from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania seeking a stretch of continuous Class II/III whitewater with a remote feel, although boaters are never too far from a road you don’t see it until the very end. One of the few options during dry months, the Mongaup is a frequent destination for paddling clubs in the region including KCCNY and AMC.
The river is characterized by its ample surf opportunities, along with an eddy hopper’s dream, and rocks everywhere in the “miracle mile” keep paddlers thinking several moves ahead. There are challenges for every skill level. Along with the whitewater features, the natural surroundings along the Mongaup are a major draw. Lush, green and isolated, the Mongaup gives one a sense of primitive nature only a short drive from New York City. Eagles and other wildlife are frequently seen while on the river, providing a close-up view of their majesty.