Dear Friends of the Smith,
I'm writing you because you probably fish the Smith River in Virginia. The Smith has a lot of challenges. It is a 30 mile trout tailwater that has existed for over 60 years. This is Henry County's only stocked trout water and has been managed by the state from the onset. Currently, decisions are being made concerning generation on the Smith. Decisions concerning the waterway affect us all and public input is critical to ensuring our natural resources and outdoor recreational assets are protected.
Last year, there was an announcement that the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) brokered an agreement with the Corps of Engineers (dam owner) and Dominion Power (hydropower operator) to have four hour generation with one turbine on both Saturdays and Sundays. The generation occurred from 10 am to 2 pm and sent a slug of water downstream at 650 cfs and greater. The goal was to increase paddling recreation on the Smith and thus economic growth. See the linked news release: http://www.henrycountyva.gov/news/details/id/67
If you will notice the list of stakeholders involved in the 2015 discussions did not include any representatives of the fishing community or the state's fish and game (VDGIF) biologists. Nor did they consider the negative economic impact of the loss of anglers. They do mention the flows will provide cold water that will benefit the fishery downstream. We and VDGIF have been asking for a 1-2 hour pulse of cold water on summer Sundays for 10-15 years and have always been told that was impossible. Now we get releases for 4 hours in the middle of the day, both weekend days, in every month? It is the biologists' contention that the fall, winter and spring releases are detrimental to the fishery as well as the length of the proposed summer releases. Many of us are paddlers, too. We think the best solution is a compromise that benefits all, including the high-value tailwater fishery..
As you may know, the powerhouse suffered a serious fire earlier this year and regular generation has not yet resumed. When repairs are complete, we need to do everything in our power to ensure the weekend releases do not resume as they were before.
We are asking you today to send your comments to the stakeholders and let them know how much you value the fishery and that you would like:
To see one day of generation, preferably Sunday.
To see it reduced to 3 hours.
To see it for June - September only.
To have a fishing representative and VDGIF included in all flow-related discussions.
Please add a personal touch to the letter.
We will pool these letters and share them with appropriate stakeholders and decision-makers.
Doug Jessie , President, Smith River Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Adam Irving Jr., President, Nat Greene Fly Fishers
David Holladay, President, Roanoke Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited