Not Feeling Heard on Dam Project

Posted by in Letters to the Editor | July 08, 2013

Published: Monday, July 8, 2013, 12:01 a.m.  The Everett Herald


As mentioned in two recent articles in the Everett Herald, officials from FERC came from the other Washington to a site visit and scoping meeting at Canyon and Sunset falls hosted by Snohomish County PUD.

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Citizens Give FERC an Earful

Posted by in Letters to the Editor | June 17, 2013

Published: Monday, June 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.  Everett Herald

The Thursday Sunset Falls Dam Project article was timely and informative. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission team from Washington D.C. was treated to a stunningly beautiful day in the rugged North Cascades as they visited one of the world’s last remaining wild and scenic rivers — our very own Skykomish River.
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Trap and Haul Good – Dam Bad

Posted by in Letters to State Agencies | May 30, 2013

July 31, 2012

Bill Phillips, PE

Assistant Director

Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife                           

600 Capitol Way North

Olympia, WA  98501-1091


Dear Mr. Phillips,

I recently had an opportunity to read a letter you wrote to Scott Spahr of the Snohomish County PUD (SnoPUD) in December 2011.  The letter detailed upgrades needed at the trap and haul at Sunset Falls if SnoPUD’s project is approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and a dam is eventually built upstream of Canyon Falls.    I am a local property owner, downstream from Sunset Falls, and presumably would not be directly affected by this proposed facility.  I am, however, opposed to SnoPUD’s proposed dam and power plant.      

Your detailed letter to Mr. Spahr was thoughtful about the improvements the trap and haul facility needs.    I understand the state budget presents significant challenges to making the improvements internally.  I hope the trap and haul is somehow able to get the needed improvements, and that humans continue to help the fish out.  However, I do not think SnoPUD is the agency to do that. 

Some people with tremendous foresight put the trap and haul into place in 1958, over 50 years ago.    My presumption is that was done in response to seriously depleted salmon runs that resulted after the dams were constructed on the Columbia River.   Although SnoPUD has smart people on their payroll, especially their fish guy, their business is energy.  They want to dam a free flowing river, one of the last in the state of Washington for a minimal amount of energy in return.

Although I’m not a fish person, I know fish need water, and they have specific temperature tolerances.   If this project goes to fruition, there will be less water in the bypass reach because it will be diverted to the tunnel and sent to the turbines.  SnoPUD will take as much water out of the bypass reach as they can to generate electricity.   The resulting decreased flow will be less than the amount the fish have evolved to survive in, and the temperature of the water will be higher.   Juvenile fish traveling downstream would likely be beat up on the rocks of Canyon Falls because as much water as possible will be diverted to the tunnel.  Whatever flow is now in the river, it is presumably enough to cushion the fish from the rocks of Canyon Falls.     

I have learned there are more “fish friendly” turbines being engineered and deployed, and that is good to know.    I fear that, a few years after a dam gets installed, there will be fewer fish returning to the river because fewer fish are getting to the ocean (banged up on the rocks, warmer water in bypass reach, easier prey for birds, some unavoidable turbine mortality).    A friend of mine who is restoring sockeye in a stream in California reminded me that it is hard to prove kill if there’s no body.  If fewer fish return, the power generation will already be in place, probably for several years because that’s the time it takes for some salmon species to return to spawn.   There will be no way to prove that fewer fish return because of the installed dam.  In other words, SnoPUD will not cause any problems getting the fish up the river, but problems will come with juvenile fish successfully getting down the river. 

The Skykomish is host to approximately 20% of the total salmon that spawn in Washington waters.   The trap and haul has played a pivotal role in that.   I believe a power generation plant at Sunset Falls could negate, or seriously diminish, that number.  

There is strong and determined opposition to SnoPUD’s plan.    As attractive of an idea as having SnoPUD take over the trap and haul may be during these economic times, please keep all options open to improve the trap and haul.   Although I support the trap and haul, my opposition to the proposed dam over-rides that support. 

Thank you for your time to read this letter.    I submit it to you with deep respect for the difficult job you have.

Lora Cox 


Heather Bartlett, Hatcheries Division Manager, WDFW



Julie Henning, Fish Passage Section Manager, WDFW



Brock Applegate, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, WDFW



PUD tunnel vision on dam project

Posted by in Letters to the Editor | February 28, 2013

Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

I am writing in response to the article, “PUD’s studies support proposed mini-dam on Skykomish“: There are a number ways that PUD is underestimating the impacts of doing this project. One of them is the cost.
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Does Dam Plan Make Fiscal Sense?

Posted by in Letters to the Editor | February 27, 2013

Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Does dam plan make fiscal sense?

The Snohomish County PUD, when advocating building a hydro power plant on the south fork of the Skykomish River, presents many details about construction of the facility, but so far has been silent when it comes to justifying it financially.

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Tough questions needed on dam

Posted by in Letters to the Editor | February 25, 2013
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Thank you for the article about upcoming Snohomish County PUD public meetings on Wednesday and Thursday to unveil plans to dam the Skykomish River at Sunset Falls. PUD employees are clearly excited about the possibility of building a new dam
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Friends of Heybrook Ridge Oppose the Sunset Falls Hydro Project

Posted by in Uncategorized | November 22, 2012

PO Box 265

Index, WA 98256

(360) 793-7744

Resolution Opposing Placement of a Dam on the Skykomish River

Adopted October 15, 2012

Whereas the Friends of Heybrook Ridge is a broad-based, Puget Sound region community non-profit organization formed in February 2007, to purchase over 100 acres of the ridge, making it a Snohomish County Park, and

Whereas the vision of the Friends has always been to preserve the flora and fauna of the ridgeand encourage visitors to enjoy the magnificent vistas available to them from planned trail viewpoints, and

Whereas the prime vista from the south side of the ridge is the State designated “Wild and Scenic River,” the Skykomish, and,

Whereas the membership of the Friends primarily consists of people who appreciate, recreate within, and honor wild places in their natural state, and who understand the environmental values inherent in such wild places and the economic benefit of hosting visitors who come to see these places,

Now therefore be it resolved that the Friends of Heybrook Ridge do oppose placement of any dam or other obstruction within any section of the Skykomish River, for the purpose of power generation, irrigation or flood control.


PUD Commissioner Vote is Important

Posted by in Letters to the Editor | October 19, 2012

When we vote, we hire someone to do a job.  The Snohomish County PUD Commissioner election is important this year.  

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Teegarden’s Ideas Already in Use

Posted by in Letters to the Editor | October 19, 2012

Recent Herald articles and letters are raising awareness about Snohomish County PUD’s highly controversial plans to dam the Skykomish River.

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Scientific skill set very much needed

Posted by in Letters to the Editor | October 11, 2012

PUD commissioners should have sufficient knowledge of energy and related environmental issues to make decisions before spending millions of dollars to study a project that is obviously a bad idea.

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