Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Queries Seattle City Light About Our Complaint

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Queries Seattle City Light About Our Complaint

In July, 2021, we sent a letter to the sponsors of the Barnaby Reach project expressing our opposition to any project feature like the dangerous channel originally envisioned by the sponsors. For the past eight years we’ve demanded that the idea of constructing a long, wide and deep channel to divert substantial Skagit River flow into Barnaby Slough be abandoned altogether. In spite of evidence demonstrating our area’s susceptibility to erosion, along with information showing that the risks of catastrophic consequences cannot be completely mitigated, the sponsors kept the channel option under consideration. They wouldn’t let go of an aggressive option that could spell ruin for our neighborhood.

So, as these powerful organizations began the first phase of work on the project this summer through their project manager, Skagit River System Cooperative, we knew it was imperative that we strongly assert our vehement opposition to active flow redirection. The letter was signed by over sixty neighbors and property owners in our community.

We filed our community letter with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) so that it would be included in the record relating to Seattle City Light’s application to relicense its dam operation. Today the FERC sent a letter to the city of Seattle asking Seattle to address concerns raised in our letter.

Here is the FERC letter to the city of Seattle:

Document Accession #: 20211215-3009 Filed Date: 12/15/2021

Office of Energy Projects

VIA FERC Service

Mike Haynes
City of Seattle, City Light Department 700 5th Avenue, Suite 3200
P.O. Box 34023
Seattle, WA 98124-4023

Project No. 553-241—Washington Skagit River Hydroelectric Project Seattle City Light

December 15, 2021


Subject: Request for Additional Information Regarding the Barnaby Reach Restoration Dear Mr. Haynes:

This letter requests additional information related to an August 9, 2021 complaint from Skagit Upriver Neighbors regarding the Barnaby Reach salmon habitat project, which was referenced in your Annual Fisheries Report, filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) on July 15, 2021 for the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project No. 553.Skagit Upriver Neighbors indicated that they generally oppose the project, with the exception of a modest recreational development that would accommodate walking and wildlife watching. Skagit Upriver Neighbors alleges that the more extensive recreational development would impinge on traditional hunting and gathering activities by local tribal and non-tribal communities. They also directly state that they oppose any plans to reduce flows in Barnaby Reach due to the risk of changes to the riverbed and perceived risk to a downstream bridge. Skagit Upriver Neighbors argues that any costs and impacts of the project would outweigh the estimated benefits.

On November 7, 2011, the Department of the Interior filed a recommendation

Order Accepting Settlement Agreement, Issuing New License and Terminating Proceeding (71 FERC ¶ 61,159), issued May 16, 1995.page1image10874688

Document Accession #: 20211215-3009 Filed Date: 12/15/2021

Project No. 553-241


pursuant to section 10(a)(1) of the Federal Power Actregarding a pending amendment for the project. The recommendation, which became a requirement by ordering paragraph (A) of the 2013 amendment,was for the Commission to require all of the proposed environmental measures listed in the applicant-prepared Environmental Assessment (APEA), which had been filed on July 12, 2011. Table 2-4 in the APEA noted that Barnaby Slough would contribute to the project as 225 acres of wildlife mitigation lands. While no specific management actions were required beyond securing and preserving the habitat, Barnaby Slough was identified has having high or medium priority barriers wherein removal would provide improved habitat access for salmonids and therefore included in the project boundary. Conversely, Article 202 of the project license allows you to grant permissions for certain types of use and occupancy of project lands and waters without prior Commission approval.

The activities referenced by the Skagit Upriver Neighbors appear to be a part of the Barnaby Reach Restoration, which aims to improve fish habitat, reduce flood risk,
and provide other community benefits. The Barnaby Reach Restoration is a collaborative effort among you, The Nature Conservancy, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Skagit River System Cooperative.This restoration effort is not directly linked to a license requirement; however, a portion of it would occur on lands located within the project boundary.

In order for us to complete our review of the Skagit Upriver Neighbors’ complaints, please respond to the statements in their letter and include the following information within 30 days of the date of this letter:

  1. 1)  Please confirm that the abovementioned information is consistent with your records and that the Barnaby Reach Restoration is not related to your current relicensing proceedings, or provide what you believe to be the correct information;
  2. 2)  Clarify which aspects of the Barnaby Reach Restoration would occur on lands

16 U.S.C. § 803(a)(1) (2006).

Order Amending License and Revising Annual Charges (144 FERC ¶ 62,044), issued July 17, 2013.

4The Skagit River System Cooperative provides environmental management services for the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.page2image11073984

Document Accession #: 20211215-3009 Filed Date: 12/15/2021

Project No. 553-241

within the project boundary, including maps of the proposed work, and whether any significant land-disturbing activities have already occurred on project lands;


3) Providing documentation if possible, please summarize the extent to which you have involved local tribes in the Barnaby Reach Restoration and their individual opinions on the restoration activities;

4) Please summarize any sediment and hydrogeological modelling you have done as it relates to potential impacts to neighboring properties, roads, and infrastructure downstream of the Barnaby Reach Restoration area; and

5) Lastly, please respond to any other comments made by Skagit Upriver Neighbors or provide any additional information that may be relevant to our review of their concerns.

Thank you for your cooperation. We look forward to your response, due January 15, 2022. If you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact me at (202) 502-8038 or alicia.burtner@ferc.gov.


Alicia Burtner
Aquatic Resources Branch
Division of Hydropower Administration

and Compliancepage3image5028272

Document Accession #: 20211215-3009 Filed Date: 12/15/2021

Posts Carousel

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Latest Posts

Most Commented