Hydaburg Cooperative Association: Haida Corporation - 1995 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Hydaburg Cooperative Association/Haida Corporation
Location: Hydaburg, AK
Project Title: Feasibility Study Completion & FERC Application for License for Proposed Waterpower Project (Reynolds Creek Hydroelectric Project)
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-FG48-95R810587
Project Amounts:
DOE: $190,758
Awardee: $95,902
Total: $286,660
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 1995
End: March 1997

Project Description

Introduction

This project analyzes the benefits of the proposed project and the effects of project construction and operation on the natural resources of the Reynolds Creek Basin. Natural resource impacts have been identified as follows:

Construction

  • A temporary increase in turbidity and sediment in Rich's Pond and Lower Reynolds Creek.

  • Temporary wildlife displacement due to construction noise and activity.

  • Elimination of approximately 2 acres of wetlands for construction of the intake, transmission line, and access road.

  • Short-term disturbance of approximately 4.5 acres of vegetation and permanent elimination of approximately 2.5 acres of vegetation.

Operation

  • Overhead transmission lines posing a threat to raptors.
  • Increased runoff from areas occupied by structures.
  • In-lake rearing and spawning altered by the lake level fluctuations in Lake Mellen.
  • Visual impacts from the presence of project facilities in the area.
  • A decrease in flow in the bypass reach of Reynolds Creek by 30 cfs at 1.5 mW operation.
  • Inundation of Rich's Pond shoreline and the shore inlet channel from Lake Mellen.

The Haida Corporation proposed the following mitigation measures:

  • Installation of a low-level outlet in the diversion structure to continuously release flows into the bypassed reach of Reynolds Creek.
  • Design of the overhead transmission line according to raptor protection guidelines and installation of collision avoidance devices on the line, if appropriate.
  • Implementation of an erosion and sediment control plan and best management practices to control runoff and prevent delivery of construction sediment to streams.
  • Timing of certain construction activities to minimize disturbance to fish and wildlife.
  • Construction of the tailrace just below the anadromous fish barrier in Reynolds Creek.
  • Design and construction of project facilities to minimize aesthetic impacts.
  • Modification of the inlet stream to Lake Mellen to provide a somewhat greater flow in the eastern distributary.
  • Prohibiting hunting, trapping, and fishing by construction personnel during construction of the project.

No threatened, endangered, or sensitive species have been found or are expected in the project area. A list of species of concern provided by the agencies was considered in the analysis of terrestrial impacts.

The amount of any environmental resource affected would either be a small increment of the total in the project area or mitigation measures that are proposed would render the impact insignificant. Thus, on the basis of the overall environmental analysis, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was recommended.

Goals and Objectives

Haida Corporation proposes to construct, operate, and maintain a 5 mW hydroelectric project on Reynolds Creek just west of Lake Mellen on Prince of Wales Island, approximately 10 miles east of Hydaburg, Alaska. The project will be constructed in two phases. In the first phase, the diversion/intake, penstock, access roads, transmission line and a 1.5 mW powerhouse will be constructed. In the second phase, the powerhouse will be expanded and an additional 3.5 mW unit will be installed, increasing the project capacity to 5 mW. All project lands are owned by Haida Corporation or will be acquired through a lease or purchase from Sealaska Corporation or the State of Alaska. No federal lands will be utilized for the project. This project could generate up to 23.5 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year of electrical energy. The project will displace diesel-fueled electric power generation and, thereby, conserve non-renewable fossil fuels and reduce the emission of noxious byproducts caused by combustion of fossil fuels.

The photomontage shows the upper lake, which will supply the water for the hydro project, and insets show the lower lake (Lake Mellen) and instrumentation near the lake to measure stream flow.

The Haida Corporation, an Alaska Native Corporation, proposed to construct, operate, and maintain a 5 MW hydroelectric facility on Reynolds Creek, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska. Hydro turbines will be placed on creeks flowing between an upper lake and a lower lake, and between the lower lake and the ocean. The plant is projected to produce power at 11 cents/kwh.

Project Actions and Resultant Data

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) issued a Preliminary Permit to the Haida Corporation effective Dec. 1, 1994, to allow them to study the hydroelectric potential of Reynolds Creek. This permit expired on Nov. 30, 1997. Haida Corporation is an Alaskan corporation established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act as the village corporation for the Native village of Hydaburg. Haida Corporation has retained HDR as its agent for purposes of this project. Haida Corporation has filed an Application for License with the Commission for a Major Water Power Project (18 CFR 4.61). The maximum installed capacity will be 5 mW. The project would be located on Reynolds Creek just west of Lake Mellen on Prince of Wales Island, approximately 10 miles east of Hydaburg, Alaska. All project lands are owned by Haida Corporation or will be acquired through a lease or purchase from Sealaska Corporation or the State of Alaska. No federal lands will be utilized for the project. The project will consist of a dam/intake near the outlet of Rich's Pond on the west side of Lake Mellen, a penstock to convey water from the intake to the powerhouse, a powerhouse on Lower Reynolds Creek, and a transmission line to the City of Hydaburg. The Commission, under the authority of the Federal Power Act (FPA), may issue licenses for up to 50 years for the construction, operation, and maintenance of non-federal hydroelectric developments.

Under the Commission's regulations, issuing a license for the project first requires preparation of either an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. Pursuant to the authority granted under Section 2403(b) of the Energy Policy Act of 1923, Haida Corporation, in coordination with the Commission staff, prepared a draft Preliminary Draft Environmental Assessment (PDEA) for the Reynolds Creek Project consistent with the requirements of NEPA and the Council on Environmental Quality's guidelines, 40 CFR Part 1500. That document included descriptions and evaluations of the effects of the Haida Corporation's proposed action, including an assessment of the action's cumulative effects and project-specific effects.

The draft PDEA was circulated for review to all interested parties via a letter dated Aug. 20, 1997. Comments were due on Nov. 18, 1997. Three comment letters were received. The PDEA has been submitted to the Commission, in lieu of an environmental report, as part of the Haida Corporation's Application for License.

Following filing, the Commission staff will independently review the PDEA and other application material for adequacy and will issue a staff Draft Environmental Assessment (DEA). The Commission staff will consider all comments filed on the staff DEA for the final EA. The staff will present conclusions and recommendations for the Commission to consider in reaching its final licensing decision.

The Haida Corporation will seek benefits under Section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) of 1978. The project will be located at a new diversion as defined in 18 CFR 292.202.

Purpose of Action

The Commission must decide whether to issue a hydropower license to Haida Corporation for the project, and what conditions should be placed on any license issued. Issuing a license would allow Haida Corporation to construct and operate the project for a term of up to 50 years, making electric power from a renewable resource available. The environmental and economic effects of construction and operation of the project, as proposed by Haida Corporation, are assessed in the PDEA. The effects of a no-action alternative are also considered.

Need for Power

The Reynolds Creek Project would be located approximately 10 miles east of Hydaburg, Alaska, on Prince of Wales Island (POWI). Power from the project would have an immediate use in meeting the needs of Hydaburg and would be integral in meeting the island's long-term anticipated power needs. The project would displace diesel-fueled electric power generation and, thereby, conserve non-renewable fossil fuels and reduce the emission of noxious byproducts caused by combustion of fossil fuels. Displacing fossil fuels would also reduce the production of "greenhouse" gases and reduce risk of oil spills associated with the handling and storage of these fuels. This is particularly important in the pristine environment of southeast Alaska where the project would be located. If the project license is denied, the project's capacity would likely need to be replaced with diesel generation.

Hydaburg is located within the service territory of Alaska Power & Telephone (AP&T) who currently operates and maintains the electric generation and distribution system. The Hydaburg system is an isolated electrical network with no interconnection to any other utility or transmission system outside of the existing service territory. AP&T intends to purchase the power from the project to offset diesel generation in Hydaburg as outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two parties, dated July 17, 1997. As the island becomes interconnected, the project's energy will be used to meet the energy requirements of all of POWI. To assess this need for power, AP&T's current resources and the projected regional need for power were reviewed. AP&T also holds the electrical franchise for the nearby communities of Hollis and Craig and provides wholesale power to the community of Klawock.

Hydaburg

Currently, all electrical generation in Hydaburg is from diesel generators owned and operated by AP&T. In 1996, the peak demand was 390 kW and total sales were 1,530 Megawatt-hours (mWh) (175 kW average). The number of customers totaled slightly less than 200. However, peak demand has been as much as 490 kW, which occurred both in 1992 and 1994. Energy sales have increased by an average of about 50 mWh over the last ten years.

Additionally, two significant loads would likely be added to the system should the project be developed. The Natzuhini logging camp is located on Natzuhini Bay just north of Hydaburg. Sealaska Corporation, which owns and operates the camp, has indicated that they plan to keep the camp in operation indefinitely and would favor an alternative source of generation. The camp uses approximately 1,400 mWh per year. Second, Haida Corporation has obtained a 20-year lease to operate the Hydaburg cold storage and ice making facilities in Hydaburg. These facilities are currently not in operation. However, it is assumed that these facilities will be restarted in the near future. These facilities are estimated to add an additional 1,750 mWh to the system load.

Interconnected Prince of Wales Island

The Craig/Klawock area, located 22 miles north-northwest of Hydaburg, is currently served by AP&T and the Tlingit-Haida Regional Electric Authority (THREA). In 1996, the load in Craig/Klawock totaled 19,000 mWh. The average annual energy requirements for these communities have risen by 10% each year since 1990. The majority of generation is being supplied by the Black Bear Lake Hydroelectric Project (BBL). BBL is estimated to have an average annual generation capability of 23,000 mWh.

Interconnection of POWI continues to progress. A transmission intertie from BBL west to the City of Thorne Bay, the Goose Creek Industrial Park, and Kasaan has been funded and will soon be constructed. Construction is estimated to be completed in 1999. With this interconnection in place, BBL will be essentially 100% utilized. AP&T also has plans to interconnect to the community of Hollis by the year 2000. Any future load growth will have to be met with new resources as continued diesel generation. AP&T is currently pursuing development of the South Fork Black Bear Creek project (BBL2) to increase their hydroelectric generating capacity. The output from this project will largely be consumed by the parallel development of a mineral processing facility near Klawock.

Load Forecasts

To identify the future need for power on the island, the Haida Corporation worked jointly with AP&T and the Sealaska Corporation to develop load forecasts and to identify resource options. As part of this study, transmission interties to interconnect the communities of Hollis and Hydaburg to the existing electrical grid system were investigated. A comparison of the load forecasts and the utilization of resources from this study has been accomplished. Since all energy in excess of 23,000,000 kWh per year must be generated using diesel-fuel-fired generators, a clear need for the project power output to offset this fuel generation would exist by the time the Reynolds Creek Project could be constructed.

Sealaska Corporation is the major private landholder on Prince of Wales Island and is responsible for the majority of the industrial activity such as logging and mining that is taking place on the island. Sealaska is also the Regional Corporation formed under the Alaska Native Settlement Claims Act (ANSCA) and, thus, represents a significant number of electrical consumers on the island.

Proposed Action and Alternatives

Project Facilities

The Reynolds Creek Project would consist of a 20-foot-long, concrete weir, diversion dam, and intake at the outlet of Rich's Pond (Lake Mellen); a bypass pipe; a 3,200-foot-long, 42-inch diameter, steel penstock; a powerhouse; access roads (500 feet total); and a 10.9-mile-long, 34.5 kV overhead transmission line. The project will be constructed in two phases. In the first phase, the diversion/intake, penstock, access roads, transmission line and a 1.5 mW powerhouse will be constructed. In the second phase, the powerhouse will be expanded and an additional 3.5 mW unit will be installed, increasing the project capacity to 5 mW.

Project Operation

The Reynolds Creek Project will operate almost entirely in a run-of-the-river mode, generating electrical energy from available streamflow. During normal operation, water will be continuously released into the bypass reach through the low level outlet of the diversion. Any additional water up to the desired turbine flow will be diverted through the powerhouse and returned to Reynolds Creek near the anadromous fish barrier. Turbine flow will range from a minimum of about 5 cfs to 30 cfs in Phase I and would increase to a maximum of 90 cfs following construction of Phase II. Lake Mellen will be used to synchronize the daily variations in electrical load with the daily variations in inflow. The water balance of Upper and Lower Reynolds Creek will be the same on a weekly, if not daily, time frame.

Three control modes are planned for the project. In the first control mode, the project would be responsible for governing the system frequency. As such, the project would be required to react to load swings ("load following") by increasing or decreasing output from the project. This would be the control mode in the early years when the project is used to meet the needs of Hydaburg exclusively. Once the project becomes an integrated resource in the larger Prince of Wales Island electrical system, the project would likely see two additional modes of operation, "block" loading and "level control." When block loaded, the project would operate at a desired output level and, therefore, relatively constant flow level. When under level control, the project would be operated to maximize the generation from the available water while maintaining a constant pool elevation in Lake Mellen. In this case, inflow into Lake Mellen will be equal to outflow. In these latter two modes, governing, or control, of the system frequency would be performed by one of the other generating resources in the interconnected system.

When the project is operating in either a load following or block loaded mode, storage will be used when the turbine flow required to meet the load is in excess of inflow. When the turbine flow required to meet the load is less than the lake inflow, storage will be increased or if the lake elevation is at the spillway crest, the excess water will be spilled. Due to the limited storage available in Lake Mellen, the length of time and the frequency of which the project could operate in these modes is a function of the amount of inflow to Lake Mellen and the magnitude of the load to be met. When there is insufficient water to support these modes of operation, the project will need to operate in conjunction with another generating resource, such as diesel.

Load Following

In this control mode, the generating unit would be programmed to adjust to increasing or decreasing system loads and frequency by varying the output, and hence the turbine discharge. The typical variation in load in the existing system is characterized by a morning and late afternoon peak. This would mean that the project would ramp up and down twice a day according to the system load. As shown by this figure, the variation in load, and subsequently flow, is approximately 30% in a 24-hour period. Therefore, in Phase I, the variability of turbine flow would be approximately 9 cfs. During Phase II, this variability would increase to 27 cfs. Slight, and immediate variations in output would be expected at all times in response to instantaneous loads placed on the system, such as when electrical motors are started or stopped. The study simulation was based on actual hourly inflow, which is approximately equal to the long-term average inflow to the project. For illustration purposes, the week of inflow selected is relatively constant. Actual inflow can vary widely.

Block Loading

With block loading, the unit would be set to a desired output level and left there for a period of time. Generally, the desired output from the unit would probably be established weekly and updated once or twice daily. Actual operations will vary based upon load, hydrology and other unit availability within the system. During these load blocks, discharge from the unit will remain constant but could vary between zero and the installed discharge capacity of the units.

Level Control

When the project is operating under level control, all available inflow up to the rated turbine capacity is used for generation. Inflow in excess of the maximum turbine flow is passed as spill. Flows in Lower Reynolds Creek are equal to the naturally occurring inflow. Due to the electrical constraints of an isolated system, this mode of operation will only be possible when the project is interconnected to the remainder of Prince of Wales Island.

Startup/Shutdown

A typical mode of operation for use of deflectors is to set up the turbine so that if generation shuts down for any reason, the deflectors are swung into position, and flow is maintained through the turbine until a plant operator can assess the reason for the plant shutdown. Flows through the turbine would be reduced to a minimum level when the deflectors are in place. If, as is often the case, the unit could be restarted within a short amount of time, the deflectors would be left in place until the unit is restarted. If, however, it is clear that the turbine would have to be shutdown for an extended period, the flow through the jets would be slowly shut-off. It is proposed that the turbine for this project be operated in this way to maintain flow downstream of the powerhouse during unplanned shutdowns. During startup, the process is reversed.

Lake Mellen

Lake Mellen is fed by Middle Reynolds Creek and, via its outlet sub-basin, Rich's Pond, serves as the source of Lower Reynolds Creek. Under most runoff conditions in the Reynolds Creek basin, the water surface elevation of Lake Mellen is about 876 fmsl, plus or minus a foot or less. A water line mark placed in early spring 1996 was never more than 0.4 feet from actual water surface elevation in subsequent visits in 1996 and 1997. Lake elevation is maintained by the outlet sill and a broad log jam on the lake-ward side of the sill. Lake Mellen has a surface area of approximately 150 acres at a pool elevation of 876 fmsl; because of the steepness of the shoreline around most of the lake, this surface area does not vary significantly with changes in water surface elevation. During normal operation of the project, the pool elevation will be at or near the crest elevation of 876 fmsl. Inflows in excess of the required turbine flow will pass over the diversion as uncontrolled spill. To account for daily variability in inflow, storage in Lake Mellen will be used to supplement natural inflow. If any storage is used, its effect on Lake Mellen elevation will be insignificant. For example, if a constant 10 cfs (one third of the Phase 1 installed capacity was withdrawn from storage to supplement inflow, the elevation of Lake Mellen would only change approximately 0.13 feet in 24 hours. Therefore, on a day-to-day basis, little variation in pool elevation is expected.

Drawdown of Lake Mellen will be limited to a minimum elevation of 872 fmsl, which equates to about 600 acre-feet of usable storage, or about 1% of the average annual yield of the system. Significant drawdown of Lake Mellen would only occur during an extended period of low inflow. The following table shows the number of days to either drawdown or refill Lake Mellen for a given net inflow.

During Phase I, assuming a minimum instream flow requirement in the bypass reach of 5 cfs and the turbine at maximum flow (30 cfs), significant drawdown of Lake Mellen would only occur when inflow into the system averaged 35 cfs or less. During the months of April and May, the minimum drawdown elevation will be limited to elevation 874.5 fmsl to facilitate resident fish migration upstream into Middle Reynolds Creek. If, and when, the elevation of Lake Mellen reaches the minimums described above, project operations will be curtailed until sufficient inflow returns to the system. During any drawdown times, flow will always be entering the bypass reach via the uncontrolled low-level outlet.

Bypass Reach Flow Regime

The bypass reach of Reynolds Creek will extend from the intake location at the outlet of Rich's Pond approximately 3,500 feet downstream to the tailrace location (Figure 4). The average gradient in the diversion reach is 23%. Much of the diversion reach is located in incised bedrock with isolated step pools forming at low flows. During project operation, flow in the diversion reach will be a combination of releases from the low-level outlet, spill, and local runoff.

A minimum instream flow will be released through the low level outlet on the diversion structure. This flow will be continuous and will be senior and independent of flows used for power generation. Spill flows will occur anytime the elevation of Lake Mellen is at elevation 876 fmsl and inflow into the lake exceeds the required turbine flow required for generation. The 0.5 square mile of drainage area of the bypass reach can be expected to contribute on average an additional 6 cfs of flow.

Lower Reynolds Creek Flow Regime

Flows in Lower Reynolds Creek immediately below the tailrace will be the sum of bypass reach flows and power generation flows. These flows will increase with the addition of unregulated tributary flows that enter approximately 625 feet downstream of the tailrace. During average and wet years, and during most dry years, flows in Lower Reynolds Creek under project operation will generally be the same as are occurring naturally now with the exception of the daily fluctuation that is described above.

During extreme low flow periods, which could occur in any year, water will be drawn from storage to supplement naturally occurring inflow when required. This will result in an enhancement of flows in Lower Reynolds Creek until such time that the usable storage in the system has been exhausted. When enhancement flows can no longer be provided by the system, flows in Lower Reynolds Creek will revert to natural flows. Following a period of low flow, flows in excess of the minimum instream flow and the turbine flow will be used to replenish the flows that were used previously for enhancement. This will result in a slight "shaving" of the flows in Lower Reynolds Creek.

Proposed Environmental Measures

Several measures have been built into the project design to ameliorate or mitigate for potential adverse impacts of project construction and operation. These measures have largely been incorporated as best management practices (BMPs), as a result of identification of potential adverse impacts by the Haida Corporation's design team, or by agency comments during scoping or consultation. To protect and/or mitigate impacts on environmental resources, Haida Corporation proposes to:

Construction Precautions

  • Provide erosion and sediment control measures during construction and operation of the project by implementing the erosion and sediment control plan.

  • Prohibit hunting, trapping, and fishing by construction personnel during the construction of the project.

  • Minimize area of disturbance for construction of project facilities.

Lake Mellen Elevation Operating Regime

  • Maintain lake elevation during the potential grayling spawning period (April through May) above elevation 874.5 fmsl to ensure that grayling have normal access to potential spawning areas.

  • Maintain the elevation of Lake Mellen between 876 and 874 fmsl during the remainder of the year, under normal hydrologic conditions and power demand. Under extreme conditions, lake level may be drawn as low as 872 fmsl.

  • Monitor grayling spawning in tributaries to Lake Mellen in the first and second years following construction to ensure that access to spawning areas is not hindered by lake elevation changes.

  • With ADF&G approval, modify the inlet stream to Lake Mellen to provide a somewhat greater flow in an eastern tributary that currently lacks sufficient flow to allow grayling access for spawning, as mitigation for potential lost grayling spawning or rearing habitat in the reach between Lake Mellen and Rich's Pond.

Instream Flows in Bypass Reach

  • Install a low-level outlet in the diversion structure to continuously release flows into the bypassed reach of Reynolds Creek. The outlet would be unregulated and would be sized to release 5 cfs at a pool elevation of 872 fmsl.

Powerhouse and Tailrace Location

  • Locate the tailrace between elevation 90 and 95 feet, near the limit of accessibility of anadromous fish and above the area of significant spawning or rearing habitat; thus, diversion of water between Lake Mellen and the tailrace will not have a significant effect on anadromous fish reproduction.

  • Design the tailrace to prevent access or attraction by fish and to dissipate remaining hydraulic energy before release of water to the creek.

Transmission Line Features

  • Locate the transmission line to maximize the proportion of the route that follows existing roads; virtually the entire route will cross areas that have been clearcut within the last 15 years.

  • Locate the transmission line in accordance with FAA requirements for aircraft safety and incorporate in the design state-of-the-art devices for raptor protection and diverters, where appropriate, for the protection of bird life.

Access Roads

  • Utilize existing timber harvest roads to the greatest extent possible to reduce the amount of disturbed project area.

Mandatory Conditions (Preliminary)

Haida Corporation is seeking benefits under Section 210 of PURPA and believes that the project meets the definition under Section 292.202 (p) of 18 CFR for a new diversion. As such, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the state agency exercising authority over fish and wildlife resources of the state (Alaska Department of Fish and Game) have mandatory conditioning authority under the procedures provided for at Section 30 (c) of the Federal Power Act.6. A letter dated Nov. 18, 1997, was received from Alaska Department of Fish and Game providing preliminary recommendations, terms and conditions, and prescriptions for the Reynolds Creek Project.

Modification of Haida Corporation's Proposal

A variety of measures and modifications were identified that served to address potential environmental impacts and/or agency comments that were raised during the agency consultation process. Because the "Haida Corporation-prepared EA" process occurs simultaneously with the development of the Application for License, these modifications were incorporated in Haida Corporation's proposed project as they were identified. After the PDEA and Application for License are reviewed by the Commission staff, other modifications to Haida Corporation's proposal might be recommended.

No Action Alternative

Under this alternative, the Reynolds Creek Project would not be constructed. The City of Hydaburg would continue to receive power from fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. The noise and air quality impacts of the existing generation system would continue unabated or at increased levels as the local demand for power increases. The risk of spills of diesel fuels would likewise continue at current or increasing levels. No project facilities would be built in the Reynolds Creek drainage and no new transmission lines would be constructed.

The financial benefits to the residents of Hydaburg in the form of lower electrical rates and to the Haida Corporation in terms of project operating revenues would not be realized. Ultimately, the intertie between Craig/Klawock and Hydaburg might be built and Hydaburg could be supplied by hydroelectric generation from other projects on the central or northern part of the island. This eventuality could result in elimination of the need for local diesel generation of power but would not provide the same level of economic benefit to the people of Hydaburg and to the Haida Corporation that would be derived from the Reynolds Creek Project.

Environmental Analysis

In this phase of the study the general environmental setting of the project was described, followed by a discussion of the site-specific effects on the resources affected by the proposed action, alternative configurations, and the no-action alternative. A cumulative effects analysis was also presented for selected resources.

General Description of the Reynolds Creek Watershed

Reynolds Creek is a high gradient stream that originates in mountains to the north and east of Copper Harbor on the southwest side of Prince of Wales Island (POWI). POWI is part of the Alexander Archipelago of southeast Alaska islands. The Reynolds Creek drainage is a narrow glacial valley. Valley walls are steep and wooded except where rock cliffs are too steep for vegetation or where avalanche paths limit vegetation to shrub.

Reynolds Creek (Upper Reynolds Creek) flows from Lake Marge at about 1,750 feet above sea level, down a series of cascades to Summit Lake at about 1,318 feet above sea level, then through a relatively wide and gently sloping valley to Lake Mellen at about 876 feet above sea level. From Lake Mellen, the stream (Lower Reynolds Creek) flows through a steep narrow canyon to about the 100-foot elevation. Below this elevation the valley widens somewhat, and the gradient decreases as the stream flows into the head of Copper Harbor on the east side of Hetta Inlet.

The Reynolds Creek valley was largely unlogged and had no passable roads until 1997. A portion of the drainage of a major tributary to Reynolds Creek (entering from the north about 400 feet above tidewater) was clearcut prior to 1994. Additional areas in the drainage of this tributary were disturbed in the early part of the century by copper mining activity high on Copper Mountain, a 3,900-foot peak one mile to the north of the mouth of Reynolds Creek. When mining began, the small enclave of Coppermount was built on the north side of the head of Copper Harbor. This town included a smelter that handled ore from Copper Mountain and other mines in the Hetta Inlet area. The mining and smelting activity was short-lived, and the town site has been abandoned for more than half a century. No permanent structures remain there or anywhere else in the Reynolds Creek drainage.

In 1997 the major landowner in the Copper Harbor and Reynolds Creek drainage, Sealaska Corporation, initiated road building and logging in the drainage. Based on conversations with Sealaska, it is expected that the majority of marketable timber in the drainage will be cut by the time the Reynolds Creek Project is constructed. Logging roads were constructed near the vicinity of the proposed powerhouse in 1997 and are planned near the outlet of Lake Mellen.

Results, Conclusions, Findings, and Recommendations

Sections 4(e) and 10(a)(1) of the FPA, 16 U.S.C. 797(e) and 803(a)(1), respectively, require the Commission to give equal consideration to all uses of the waterway on which the project is located. When the Commission reviews a hydropower project, the recreational, fish and wildlife, and other non-developmental values of the waterway are considered equally with its electric energy and other developmental values. In determining whether, and under what conditions, a hydropower license should be issued, the Commission must weigh the various economic and environmental tradeoffs involved in this decision. Based on review and evaluation of the proposed project, and the no-action alternative, the proposed project is the preferred option.

Project Status

For current project status or additional information, contact the project contacts.

Project Contact

Haida Corporation
PO Box 89
Hydaburg, AK 99922
Telephone: (907) 285-3721