What to Say

Without the immediate application of a large amount of political pressure the current situation is likely to deteriorate further. The ACOE has recently been reducing the availability of whitewater opportunities, and this is likely to continue.

Without your action now, we fully expect a further curtailment of whitewater releases from all ACEO projects. Please see the attachment: Political Action for West River Whitewater.
Political Action for West River Whitewater

What To Say

For maximum impact, put your ideas in your own words. Here is a list that may help you think of what to write about.

1. The Corps’ Environmental Operating Principles (www.hq.usace.army.mil/cepa/envprinciples.htm) in part state:

  • Seek balance and synergy among human development activities and natural systems by designing economic and environmental solutions that support and reinforce one another.
  • Respect the views of individuals and groups interested in Corps activities, listen to them actively, and learn from their perspective in the search to find innovative win-win solutions to the nation’s problems that also protect and enhance the environment.

That document then goes on to say under “Background”, “Environmental sustainability can only be achieved by the combined efforts of federal agencies, tribal, state and local governments, and the private sector, each doing their part, backed by the citizens of the world.  These principles help the Corps define its role in that endeavor.”

Obviously the Corps has failed to follow these principles.  Your letter could quote some or all of this material to make your points.

2. Write about your use of the West River for recreation, how many years you have been going, etc. Talk about how much you enjoy boating on the West River, if you would like to see more releases on the West. Would you go to Jamaica if there was no whitewater release on the West ?   Would you go more often if there were more releases ? This can easily be done two ways, time shifting and releases in the spring.

3. While the West has had the largest reductions in release days and flow levels, the ACOE has also reduced release days or flows on the Millers (MA), Westfield (MA) and Blackwater (NH).  If you have paddled these rivers, write about your experience there and how you would like to see releases added, not eliminated.

4. You might express an interest in “time shifting” (capturing runoff from ‘rain events’ that happen in the last half of the week and releasing to create boatable flows on Saturday) as a viable strategy to increase the value and frequency of use of this unique resource.

5. Spring releases can occur with very little modification (if any) to the natural flow in the river. Why can’t a second spring release be scheduled as has been done in the past ?

6. Telephone message machine and web based projections of the near term dam operation (such as done on the Deerfield) would allow boaters to go to the river when rain events or natural flow are sufficient for boating. This is a low cost way to increase the accessibility and  frequency of use of a valuable recreational resource.

7. Say something about how you contribute to the local economy when you attend a West release, buying food, lodging, the church supper, etc.

8. Express your disappointment that representatives from AMC, FLOW, AW and other whitewater organizations were known by the Army Corps to have a very strong, active and longstanding interest in whitewater release on the West River and were deliberately left out of the negotiations that resulted in curtailing whitewater recreation on the West.

9. Express your surprise that these changes were made without any impact analysis on the recreational resource that is being diminished, the associated economic value to the surrounding communities, and the disappointment of the hundreds of boaters who attend the fall West release each year.

10. Express your dismay that this can happen without any demonstrated environmental impact to the West River by whitewater releases, and without weighing any alleged possibility of impact against the damage the curtailment of these releases will cause to others. There has been no cost vs benefit analysis of this new policy presented, the actions have been taken without any attempt at economic or human cost/benefit justification. How can this kind of unilateral action happen in our democracy ?

11. Ask that the representative investigate the circumstances surrounding the curtailment of the releases on this extraordinary recreational and economic resource.

Thank the representative for their time in considering your letter, and end with some small anecdote about how many years you have attended the West, how it is a great place to meet friends, enjoy camping in the outdoors and how you appreciate the clean and healthy environment of Vermont, etc.

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