The agreement follows the announcement in January 2003 of a separate agreement by PacifiCorp with the Trust for Public Lands (TPL), the Bigfork Development Company and the Bigfork Area Chamber of Commerce. That agreement provides to the community an opportunity to purchase a 194ha land parcel adjacent to the hydro project, under a first-right-of-refusal arrangement, through TPL.

The settlement resolves outstanding issues related to the company’s efforts to relicense the 4.1MW Bigfork project on the Swan river. Most provisions of the agreement are for improvements to recreation facilities and access to company lands associated with the hydroelectric project.

‘It is satisfying to reach agreement on both these very important issues,’ said Bill Eaquinto, PacifiCorp vice president for hydro licensing. ‘PacifiCorp wants to assure the community that we are listening to their concerns, and we believe these agreements do just that.’

The 194ha parcel owned by PacifiCorp adjacent to, but not part of, the hydroelectric project, has long been an important recreation and wildlife resource in the Bigfork area. The agreement provides a nine-year period during which TPL may acquire the parcel at a market-based price. The arrangement provides considerable flexibility about when and how it will purchase the land parcel.

The separate licensing agreement provides that PacifiCorp will develop, along with the settlement parties, a Recreation Resource Management Plan. The plan will guide the development of recreational uses and activities on company land surrounding the Bigfork hydroelectric project once a new federal license is issued and accepted.

The settlement also provides improved public access to the south shore of the Swan river immediately below the Bigfork dam.

The licensing process for the Bigfork Project is administered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and a new license application was submitted on August 30, 2000. PacifiCorp hopes it will receive a new operating license sometime this year.