Portland General Electric is seeking a federal permit to continue operating its dams along the Clackamas River, and part of the plan includes the possibility of developing a whitewater park between the Faraday Dam and River Mill Dam for boaters and kayakers and improve river access for fishing and other outdoor recreation activities.
“Bob’s Hole on the Clackamas was so big in its day, that you could go out there at 6 a.m. and have 20 guys sitting in the eddy trying to catch a wave,” Heycamp said. “If you had a whitewater park where the waves were consistently huge, you could create some regional and national events, and develop more opportunities for playboating.”
In the traditional sport of playboating, kayakers find a unique water feature on the river and surf the wave, performing tricks and stunts.
The PGE Recreation Resources Management Plan outlines a number of conditions that must be satisfied to receive a permit from the Federal Regulation and Oversight of Energy agency. The plan requires approval from numerous regulatory agencies, that will examine potential impacts to fish, wildlife, water quality and other factors, to grant PGE a 50-year permit to continue to use the river to generate electricity.
“One of the pieces in the settlement agreement says that we will conduct a feasibility study to see if a whitewater park would work on the Clackamas,” PGE Parks and Recreation Hydro Licensing Director Tony Dentel said. “Within the next five years, we expect to get the license, and then we will work with specialists to see where we might build a whitewater park and what it will take. We’ve looked at a couple of different places, but at this point we don’t really know where it would go.”
Whitewater parks have gained popularity in the last decade. Thousands of paddlers have converged on the whitewater park on the Truckee River in Reno, Nev., and modifications to the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Mont., created a popular destination for playboaters. In Spokane, Wash., plans for a whitewater park have been moving forward for the last few years.
“In Reno, they basically re-landscaped the river channel,” American Whitewater Pacific Northwest Director Tom O’Keefe said. “The river runs right through the middle of town, and the whitewater park really enhanced the quality of the park that was there. It provides a great opportunity for the community to interact with the river, and is one of the parks we look at as a positive example of what can be done.”
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