A recent agreement between national paddling advocate American Whitewater and power companies in western Massachusetts clears the way for new whitewater boating opportunities along the Connecticut River.

After a decade of advocacy to restore a section of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts and expand whitewater boating opportunities, American Whitewater recently signed a settlement agreement with FirstLight Power as part of the FERC relicensing of the Turners Falls and Northfield Mountain hydropower projects.

American Whitewater was joined by affiliates Appalachian Mountain Club and New England FLOW along with supporting outfitters Zoar Outdoor and Crab Apple Whitewater in achieving this historic agreement.

The agreement will provide boatable flows in a 2.7-mile river reach below Great Falls that has been dewatered for more than a century for power generation.

Springtime flows and fish passage facilities will also support federally-listed Shortnose Sturgeon, American Shad, and other species.

During the summer and fall seasons, Firstlight will provide periodic scheduled releases that will provide boating opportunities and restore natural flow variability.

The agreement will also improve river access at multiple locations and require real-time and advance flow information.

Other provisions will create conservation restrictions to protect climbing ledges supported by Western Mass Climbers Coalition and the Access Fund, protect the New England Trail, expand mountain biking trails, and other recreational uses.