For twenty years Avista has been one of INLC’s most valued conservation partners in the region. Founded in 1889 as Washington Water Power Company, Avista is an energy company involved in the production, transmission, and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses. It provides electricity, natural gas, and other services to over 600,000 customers in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and parts of Oregon. Avista operates six hydroelectric developments (HEDs) along the Spokane River: Post Falls, Upper Falls, Monroe Street, Nine Mile, Long Lake, and Little Falls. Avista also operates two HEDs on the Clark Fork River: Cabinet Gorge and Noxon Rapids.
INLC began its relationship with Avista in 1998 when the energy company was relicensing its Spokane River hydroelectric facilities and met with local environmental groups. As a non-political organization, INLC chose not to try to shape the regulatory decision. Instead, Chris DeForest said, “Call us when you’re done, and we’ll make the conservation outcomes happen on the ground.”
And call they did. As detailed in this newsletter’s lead article, as part of the Spokane River Project license, Avista bought the 109-acre Sacheen Springs property in 2013 to protect the wetland complex. Sacheen Springs went on to become INLC’s 51st conservation easement.
Sacheen Springs is not the first, or last, collaborative endeavor between INLC and Avista. In 1999 Avista re-licensed its two HEDs on the Clark Fork River, which were effective in early 2001. INLC offered to do what was needed to mitigate the effects of the dams for the 45-year duration of the license.
Avista accepted the offer, and enlisted INLC. In the following years INLC used Avista Clark Fork Settlement Agreement funds to buy and protect seven properties along bull trout streams around Lake Pend Oreille, which totaled over 207 acres and preserved over 4,500 feet of pristine stream corridor. Then, in 2005 INLC helped Avista negotiate a conservation agreement on the 134-acre Twin Creek property. This lush land has three miles of river shoreline and provides critical wildlife habitat. Today, Avista and INLC are negotiating new projects.
Over the years, Avista has been and continues to be a wonderful conservation partner. We could not be more pleased with our work in tandem to protect vital habitats and clean water.