While reading up on the Hetch Hetchy Damming/Undamming Perpetual Controversy, I was alerted to another dam project a bit closer to home.

In Orange County’s Cleveland National Forest, Nevada Hydro is trying to get the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve plans to flood either Morrell or Decker Canyon to build a new hydroelectric power plant.

The dam would be as high as an 18 story building and the reservoir would be surrounded by a ten foot chain link fence. The site would also need up to 30 miles of new transmission lines.

Opponents of the dam are upset not only because the project would destroy one of the most popular hiking trails in the forest, but also because it would destroy prime hang-gliding airspace, eradicate a diverse riparian canyon, and wreak havoc downstream as far as Lake Elsinore. They also criticize the project for being purely for-profit. The company would pump water from downstream to the canyon reservoir at night, then use it to generate electricity during the day, when rates are higher.

The Sierra Club is leading efforts to fight the dam, favoring increased power conservation and smaller-scale projects near high-power-usage areas. There’s a Chapter Meeting on February 22nd and a group hike through Morrell Canyon on Sunday the 18th. Visit their site for more info.

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