Recently I have heard that American Whitewater, a national whitewater enthusiast organization, has an effort to “Wet the Dries,” as they call it. This is a proposal (P-2512-069) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This proposal is to require Brookfield Renewable Resources, a power generating company that operates Hawks Nest Dam on the New River, be required to provide 41 releases of high water flows (about 1000 to 2500 cfs, spring to fall) so that whitewater enthusiasts can run this 5.5-mile section of the river. Normal flow is about 100 to 150 cfs.
They also want them to provide road access, vehicle access, a put-in and a take-out place. This has to be approved by FERC before a license is reissued to Brookfield Energy. More details can be found online by searching “Hawks Nest Lake.”
I have read where it was called a “win win” for everyone.
This is not a “win win” for everyone. It is a loss for many who like to walk the old narrow dirt road to the dam. It is a scenic and enjoyable walking trail. It will not be a walking trail with vehicles traveling on it. Much of the old beauty will be lost with reconstruction.
It is a big loss to the fishermen who enjoy wading and fishing in that 5.5-mile section of the New River. Many enjoy fishing that area because you can wade in it when it is at normal flow. The river has many deep pools with shallow water around them, a big plus when you are fly fishing. Increasing the water flows would make the river too dangerous to fish and not fishable.
For the many that use the Hawks Nest Lake, I believe the lake would also be affected. High discharge rates with low inflow rates would cause the lake levels to rise and fall, causing boat launching problems. It probably wouldn't help the fishing or boating either.
American Whitewater has pushed this issue for several years now. They have pushed it through their membership website, unknown to us. They have pushed it through the local newspapers and local TV news stations when it is too late to do anything to oppose it. American Whitewater claims it is a positive thing. They are saying it would increase tourism. I, for one, don't think so.
West Virginia has plenty whitewater opportunities. That little section of the New River wouldn't make enough of a difference to pay for the loss to the local people that love it the way it is. The local fishermen do not have an organization to protest it. The many that walk the old road to the Dam do not have any organization to protest it. Many may not know what they are losing until it is gone. Not a “win win” situation for everyone in my opinion.