The Two Basin Partnership reported to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that they will not submit an application to relicense the Potter Valley Project and its two dams on the upper Eel River. Project owner Pacific Gas and Electric withdrew its own relicensing application in 2019. FERC must now order PG&E to begin license surrender and decommissioning processes.
Unfortunately, FERC’s decision-making can take decades. The Eel’s native fish don’t have that kind of time to spare.
But there is hope! The habitat trapped behind Scott dam is some of the best in the entire watershed. According to a new paper from federal biologists at the National Marine Fisheries Service, “the blocked Upper Mainstem generally contains a higher proportion of suitable habitat for all freshwater salmonid life stages than much of the rest of the Eel River Basin.”
And those hundreds of miles of habitat could serve as a cool-water refugia from invasive pikeminnow introduced to the Eel via PG&E’s Lake Pillsbury reservoir. Pikeminnow, which thrive in warm water, have become voracious predators of juvenile Eel River salmon and steelhead.
Please join us in speaking up for Eel River fish, and all those who rely on their presence in the watershed. Write to FERC using the sample letter (or write your own) and directions below.
Dear Secretary Bose,
I urge the Commission to move immediately to begin license surrender and project decommissioning on the Potter Valley Project.
For over 100 years this project has diverted water out of the Eel and into the Russian River, to the great detriment of Eel River wildlife and residents. We have watched our salmon runs plummet to around 5% of their historical abundance, despite the high-quality habitat in the watershed.
Eel River salmon and steelhead have been locked out of hundreds of miles of high-quality, cold-water habitat behind Scott dam for a century. This habitat would also provide refuge from the invasive and predatory pikeminnow, a species introduced to the Eel via the Potter Valley Project.
It’s time to end the abuse of the Eel River and its fisheries. It’s time to start removing the Eel River dams.