May 2022

Monthly Archive

STARVED: Our river has rights!

Posted by on 31 May 2022 | Tagged as: Connecticut River, Connecticut River ecosystem, Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge, Death-Sewer, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, federal trust fish, FERC, FERC license, FirstLight, Holyoke Co. v Lyman, migratory fish, Nation's best landscaped sewer, Northfield Mountain, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, Peskeomscut, Silvio O. Conte Connecticut River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, US Supreme Court, Vermont Digger

Our River has Rights


Controlled from 5 miles upstream by operators inside Northfield Mountain, FirstLight’s impoverished river spill at Turners Falls Dam: its now five, full, grim spawning seasons since FL’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license expired, April 30, 2018. Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

NOTE: text below published in www.vtdigger.org on May 18, 2022.
https://vtdigger.org/letters_to_editor/our-connecticut-river-has-rights/>

In Turners Falls Massachusetts on Saturday May 14th just a small wash of current folded through two bedrock notches in the Connecticut River at a basin known as the Rock Dam pool. It was peak spawning time at critical spawning habitat for the federally endangered shortnose sturgeon. Upriver just a thin spill entered the riverbed via a single open gate at Turners Falls dam, controlled by FirstLight operators at the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, 5-miles away. The Connecticut’s giant chasm at the place known to Algonquian Peoples as Peskeomscutt was mostly dry bedrock, with just thin braids of dam flow washing downstream.


The listless, calf-deep shallows at the ancient chasm known as Peskeomscutt below Turners Falls Dam. For a living river the trickling flow from the dam into this basin should be 20x times what you see in this baking riverbed landscape. Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

That lack of flow had assuredly chased the ancient sturgeon from their age old spawning site again. Five years and 5 seasons after FirstLight’s license on the river expired on April 30, 2018, there is still no water for the river or its fish. Why? After a decade of endless Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing procedures, why are hundreds of thousands of American shad lacking river flows needed to reach and pass the dam blocking them from spawning habitat in three New England states since 1798?


The grim “bakers” field of exposed cobbles and starved shoreline at the Rock Dam on the Connecticut–critical spawning and sheltering habitat for federally endangered shortnose sturgeon, and an impoverished upstream roadblock to shad attempting to reach Vermont and New Hampshire habitats. Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

The river and its fish are a public trust. Shad should be feeding us. FirstLight’s little dam spillage is some 20 times less than a basic flow needed to support a living river ecosystem here–one allowing sturgeon to spawn and shad to reach Vermont and New Hampshire.


Reconstruction work being done at the giant sucking intake of FirstLight’s Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project–essentially a deadly, energy-wasting, river-sucking, gas-powered machine that extinguishes the life of everything its consumed for over a half century. Since 1972 there has never been a more direct-deadly contraption operating on New England’s Great River. Here at Northfield Massachusetts is where an ecosystem is literally pulled apart by suctioning the four-state Connecticut River backward and uphill for hours at a massive 15,000 cubic feet per second. It’s really exploited as the Connecticut River’s Death-Sewer. Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

In 1872 the US Supreme Court made safe fish passage on the Connecticut the law of the land. Canadian-owned FirstLight is exploiting our river for millions, while laws and requirements go listlessly unenforced by agencies and so-called watchdogs. The Connecticut in Massachusetts has been an environmental disaster since Northfield Mountain began its massive suck and surge operations in 1972. By whose right?

CONNECTICUT RIVER CASUAL TRAGIC HISTORY HIKE: Sat., May 14th

Posted by on 06 May 2022 | Tagged as: America's best landscaped sewer, Andrew Fisk, Connecticut River, Connecticut River Day of Mourning, Connecticut River ecosystem, Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge, Federal Conte Anadromous Fish Research Center, federally-endangered Connecticut River shortnose sturgeion, Great Falls, Jesse Leddick, Julie Crocker, Landmark Supreme Court Decision 1872, Mark Tisa, Martin Suuberg, migratory fish, Nation's best landscaped sewer, National Marine Fisheries Service, net-loss power, no license to kill, NOAA, Northfield Mountain, Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station, public trust, Rock Dam, shad, shortnose sturgeon, Silvio O. Conte Connecticut River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, The Recorder, Turners Falls dam, Turners Falls power canal, US Fish & Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey's Conte Fish Lab, USFWS, Wendi Weber

THE CONNECTICUT RIVER CASUAL TRAGIC HISTORY HIKE:
Saturday, May 14, 2022, 9:30 – 11:00 a.m..

The April 2, 2022, Connecticut River Day of Mourning. Photo courtesy of John Bos.

Trip meets 9:30 in the courtyard of the Great Falls Discovery Center and continues onto the Rail Trail. Photo Copyright © 2022 by Karl Meyer

I hope some folks are able join this long and casual history walk. * * Please be aware that it will be close to 5 miles–with the return to Great Falls to be done on your own. As noted, a bike or even a 2nd car-pool, relay-car can be left near the walk’s end and return point. Bikes can be locked near Conte Lab–also, relay cars could be parked in the public lot at the end of G-Street, where “Migratory Way” continues along the canal heading the last 1/2 mile to Rock Dam. (I’ll be on my bike.)

The April 2nd Connecticut River Day of Mourning. Photo courtesy of John Bos.

The Connecticut River casual, tragic history hike
Saturday, May 14, 2022, 9:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Meet: Great Falls Discovery Center courtyard, Avenue A, Turners Falls
Free. No pre-registration required. * * Rain cancels.

Join journalist Karl Meyer for this 2-1/2 mile (one-way) unnatural history walk, starting at the Great Falls Discovery Center and Turners Falls dam’s failed salmon ladder. This casual hike partly follows the Rail Trail’s 200 year old transportation and power canal. We’ll cross it on a one-way bridge, pass a 1906 generating station; then head to G Street and down “Migratory Way” to unprotected sturgeon habitat at the river’s Rock Dam near the USGS Conte Fish Lab. We end above the failed fish ladder adjacent to Cabot hydro station. NOTE: * * Participants responsible for returning to Great Falls on their own (total: 5-mile round trip). It’s possible to pre-stash a locked bike near Conte Lab along Migratory Way, then cycle back via the Rail Trail.

DEAD American shad at the Rock Dam, May 2021: a public trust migratory fish guaranteed safe passage to VT and NH waters by the US Supreme Court back in 1872. Photo Copyright © 2021 by Karl Meyer

*** OH, and here are a few LINKS, the first two comprising defense of an undefended river by citizens; the last three are where foreign vultures are spending the ill-gotten spoils from our massively broken river–far from our Valley ecosystem:

https://www.recorder.com/my-turn-Meyer-Don-t-Take-FirstLight-for-Granted-46104531

https://www.recorder.com/ltr-Ogden-FirstLight-s-Lack-of-Urgency-Threatening-Shortnose-Sturgeon-46144862

https://energycentral.com/news/invenergy-and-energyre-secure-offshore-wind-lease-award-and-announce-formation-investor

https://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/news/2022/05/02/hydro-electric-firstlight-allegheny-8-9.html

https://apnews.com/press-release/business-wire/business-new-york-pennsylvania-ca11a3273cfb45eeb0e7181075ebe2df