Kalispel Tribe, Utility District Mark Box Canyon Dam Milestone

After years of negotiation, a final settlement has been reached on the appealed conditions of the Box Canyon Hydroelectric Project license renewal, according to an April 10 press release.

This agreement is indicative of the dedication and persistence displayed by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians and the Pend Oreille County Public Utility District (PUD) and will positively benefit the region as a whole.

To commemorate the milestone, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians and PUD hosted a signing ceremony at the Camas Wellness Center on the Tribe’s reservation in Usk, Wash.

“The Tribe is glad to have the settlement process completed,” said Glen Nenema, chair of the Kalispel Tribe of Indians. “We look forward to beginning the important work of restoring and enhancing natural resources that are such a central part of our heritage and culture.”

The conditions that have been changed since the issuance of the 50-year license granted to Box Canyon Dam in 2005 include improved fish passage, a tributary habitat restoration plan, and a recreation resource management plan.

“This was a team effort and we are glad that we were able to reach an agreement,” said Bob Geddes, PUD general manager. “We feel like we have fairly addressed all concerns and now look forward to getting to implement the license conditions.”

The signed agreement must now be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). This process could take up to six months. FERC will also rule on the updated completion dates of existing conditions from 2005, when the license was initially issued. Many of these deadlines were stayed due to the prolonged litigation. Dates of completion will be adjusted accordingly. The new license will be valid from 2005 to 2055.

Other organizations involved in this settlement include Ponderay Newsprint, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Kalispel Tribe of Indians has more than 400 members. As a publicly owned utility, Pend Oreille PUD provides electricity, water, and wholesale broadband services to its customers in Pend Oreille County, Wash. Box Canyon Dam on the Pend Oreille River, which is owned and operated by the PUD, provides clean, reliable, and competitively priced hydroelectricity.

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