Opposition rises against proposed Kenai dams study

An effort to study the feasibility of a 700-foot-wide, 300-foot-tall hydroelectric dam at a salmon-spawning stream connected to the Kenai River has generated quick opposition, some of it stirred by a pair of fishing guides getting their first taste of activism.

Dave Lisi and Brad Kirr are friendly competitors when it comes to guiding clients on the Kenai River. But both are united in opposition to a dam proposed by Chugach Electric Association for the Snow River north of Seward.

Within days of learning about the idea in early March, Lisi, 36, and Kirr, 37, founded a nonprofit conservation group, held a town hall meeting in Anchorage and launched an online petition and website, all to rally opponents and spread word about the prospect of a dammed Snow River.

The utility’s concept, consisting of two smaller dams to help the main dam store water for power generation, is in an early phase. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Wednesday approved a three-year preliminary permit allowing the utility to study the idea and the potential impacts of the dams.

Construction, if that ever occurs, would be preceded by many years of environmental studies and other work, officials have said.

That hasn’t stopped Lisi and Kirr from “jumping in head first” to stop it, as Lisi put it. Lisi said their petition has gathered more than 1,400 signatures, with close to 1,000 comments. Based on the comments, many of the signers are Alaskans who are passionate about protecting the area on the Kenai Peninsula, he said.

LINK (via: Alaska Dispatch News)

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