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Letters regarding Seattle City Dams FERC relicenising process

The following letters have been sent by the Skagit County Board of Commissioners on Seattle City Light's FERC relicensing process. FERC Licenses are issued to dam operators every 50 years. For more information on the FERC process click here.

 Seattle City Light operates the Skagit Hydroelectric Project, consisting of three power producing dams on the Skagit River. Seattle is currently seeking a new 50 year federal license, and federal law provides that the license must require Seattle to protect and enhance fisheries through fish passage and other appropriate mitigation.

While the dams provide electricity and flood control, they have a significant impact on the natural environment, and fish habitat in particular. The Skagit is the most important salmon river in Puget Sound, providing half the Chinook on which endangered Orcas rely.

Over the past three decades as mitigation for its impact on Skagit anadromous species, Seattle has purchased approximately 3,300 acres of land in Skagit County and removed it from our tax rolls -- fragmenting our land base, disrupting the Comprehensive Plan, and making it progressively more difficult for local government to provide services and infrastructure.

During that same time period, Skagit anadromous species have fallen by half, with tribal and non-tribal fishery closures the increasing norm. In total, Seattle has spent approximately 37 times less on salmon recovery than the regional hydropower average.

Our Skagit tribal partners have clear plans to recover Skagit anadromous species that need funding, but Seattle is instead using a contentious federal process to avoid an equitable financial contribution to Skagit salmon recovery.

Seattle City Light must commit to a regionally equitable salmon investment, and let Skagit Treaty Tribes guide its deployment.


  • May 5, 2021: Letter to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Relicensing of Skagit Project
  • April 2, 2021: Letter to Cascadia Law Group
  • March 3, 2021: Skagit County's Comments on Seattle City Light's Proposed Study Plan
  • January 21, 2021: Letter to Mayor Durkan on FERC Process
  • December 9, 2020: Letter to Mayor Durkan on FERC Process
  • September 15, 2020: Commissioners' Filing on FERC for Skagit Hydroelectric project

  • King 5 Investigative Series- Skagit: River of Light and Loss

  • Part 1: Seattle's Skagit River dams hurt salmon, orcas and Native American Culture, agencies say
  • Part 2: Seattle City LIght agrees to study fish passage over dams on Skagit River
  • Part 3: Tribes and Government Agencies accues Seattle of using 'flawed science' on Skagit River dams
  • Part 4: Seattle City Ligh told public their dam operations increased salmon runs as fish numbers declined
  • Part 5: Upper Skagit Indian Tribe: Seattle's Skagit River dams put treaty rights at risk
  • Part 6: Seattle offers to change dam operations 'sacred' stretch of Skagit River
  • Part 7: Blaming Tribal Fishing Practices for Salmon Decline is 'Misinformation,' Washington Officials say
  • Part 8: Skagit County: Seattle is 'getting away with' investing little in salmon recovery
  • Part 9: Seattle City Light River Dam Operations Should Improve to Help Feed Starving Whales, Experts Say