Fire Mountain Lodge Hydroelectric Project

Upper Deer, Gurnsey, and Fern Springs Creeks, California.

Project Profile & Licensee

FERC Project No. 1992 is located on Fern Springs Creek in Tehama County, California, and owned by Mr. Ken WIllis. The 60 kilowatt Project consists of a single dam on Fern Springs Creek that forms a small reservoir. The reservoir diverts water into a small powerhouse that discharges into Gurnsey Creek, a tributary to Deer Creek. The dam/reservoir is scheduled to be upgraded with a new, larger, spillway that discharges into Fern Springs Creek, which is tributary to Gurnsey Creek.

Federally Threatened - Listed Species/Species of Concern

  1. The distinct population segment (DPS) of California Central Valley (CV) steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and its critical habitat;
  2. The evolutionarily significant unit (ESU) of spring-run Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) and its critical habitat;
  3. The ESU of CV fall-run Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) [Species of Concern]; and
  4. Any resident rainbow trout (O. mykiss) (as this form may exhibit an anadromous lifestyle periodically).

The Limit of anadromy is a falls on Deer Creek, which is downstream of the confluence of Deer and Gurnsey creeks (basically, “Gurnsey/Deer Creek Meadow). This Project has had several catastrophic dam-washouts over the last 10 years. NMFS has been concerned with the risk of such large sedimentation events traveling downstream and affecting critical habitat of CV steelhead and CV spring-run Chinook salmon. The new license will ensure that a better, stronger, dam and spillway will be in placed so as to minimize the risk of such catastrophic sedimentation events. The second “most-viable” population of CV spring-run Chinook salmon exists in Deer Creek.

FERC Relicensing Status

Traditional Licensing Process (for several decades): There has been a more diligent TLP since 2008. Mr. Willis filed his Final License Application in 2008. NMFS and mandatory conditioning agencies (USFS and SWRCB) filed identical Federal Power Act Terms in 2011. FERC issued its Final EA and requested informal ESA consultation in 2013. The SWRCB completed its Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification in September 2013. NMFS completed its Biological Opinion in January 2014.

Resources

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC eLibrary, Docket P-1992.