Connecticut River belongs to the people

  • A boat floats on the Connecticut River in Northfield. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

Monday, July 17, 2017

After having been away from Franklin County for awhile, I have had a chance to catch up on back issues of The Recorder. One piece I read with a lot of interest was Karl Meyer’s June 26 My Turn column about the health of the Connecticut River in the final days of the relicensing process for the Turners Falls dam.

My position is simple. The river belongs to the people of the commonwealth, especially the communities through which it flows. It is not an ATM for PSP/First Light or any other power company. Part of the health of the river means the ability of fish to live and spawn in the river, including making sure the short-nosed sturgeon are able to breed at the Rock Dam and indigenous migratory fish, especially shad, are able to pass freely above the Turners Falls Dam.

As the saying goes, this is not just a good idea, but the law, as set forth in the 1965 Anadromous Fish Conservation Act and the 1973 Endangered Species Act. Among other things, what this means is that there needs to be a steady, sufficient flow of water in the river itself, neither starving the river of water nor releasing sudden bursts of water from the Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Station (another power company cash cow that does nothing to serve our real energy needs).

PSP/First Light needs to live up to its responsibilities to people who actually own the river — us. And, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Massachusetts Division of Fish and Wildlife and other federal and state agencies charged with looking out for the public’s interests and upholding the law in these matters need to do their jobs.

James Smethurst