On June 13, 2023, FirstLight Power (FirstLight) filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) a Recreation Settlement Agreement (Agreement) for the Turners Falls Hydroelectric Project (Turners Falls Project, FERC No. 1889) and Northfield Mountain Pumped Storage Project (Northfield Mountain Project, FERC No. 2485). FirstLight MA Hydro LLC and Northfield Mountain LLC (collectively FirstLight) own and operate the Turners Falls Project and Northfield Mountain Project, respectively.

Outdoor recreation is vital to the Franklin County economy playing a major role in shaping the regions identity. The recreation facilities provided by FirstLight under the FERC Licenses for the Turners Falls and Northfield Mountain Projects are an important part of the regional network of recreational assets.  Conditions in the Agreement will enhance the network of recreation assets through the construction of new recreation sites, upgrades to existing sites, placement of conservation restrictions on FirstLight lands abutting the Connecticut River and coordinated programmatic efforts to deliver sustained benefits to both residents and visitors to the region.   

Signatories to the Agreement include FirstLight, National Park Service, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Towns of Erving, Gill, Montague and Northfield, Massachusetts, Access Fund, American Whitewater, Appalachian Mountain Club, Crab Apple Whitewater, Inc., New England FLOW, Western Massachusetts Climbing Coalition and Zoar Outdoor.  


A healthy, easy-to-access river, with abundant recreation opportunities, will greatly enhance life for all those who call Franklin County home and will attract new visitors to the area.  FirstLight also strives to provide equitable access to its recreational facilities for residents, disabled and underserved populations. To augment the visitor experience, FirstLight will install historical and interpretive cultural signage at key locations in consultation with local Tribes and town officials. These changes will positively impact recreation for both residents and visitors to the communities of Northfield, Erving, Montague, and Gill. 


The Recreation Management Plan, developed as part of the Agreement, lays out the blueprint to improve and/or add several recreation facilities including:

  • Construct a pocket park at the Pauchaug-Schell Bridge Greenway, abutting the Turners Falls Impoundment (TFI) in Northfield, including historical and cultural interpretive signage. 
  • Construct a campsite at Mallory Brook on the TFI to provide paddle access camping in Northfield. 
  • Improve existing trails on the southern side of Route 10 at Bennett Meadow in Northfield, including historical and cultural interpretive signage. 
  • Construct an ADA-accessible dock for motorboats, canoes, kayaks, and riverboats on the TFI in Northfield.  
  • Construct approximately five miles of mountain biking trails at Northfield Mountain. 
  • Formalize Rose Ledges as a project recreation facility for rock-climbing in Erving. 
  • Upgrade Cabot Camp in Montague with a trail leading to the Millers River.  
  • Construct a campsite in Barton Cove on the TFI to provide paddle access camping in Gill. 
  • Improve the Barton Cove Recreation facility in Gill to include canoe and kayak locking. 
  • Construct a recreation access site to the TFI, at the northern end of Unity Park in Montague, including convenient canoe and kayak unloading, storage, and vehicle parking. 
  • Construct two river access trails below the Turners Falls Dam in Montague providing access above and below Peskeomskut Island to facilitate whitewater boating and paddle-through boating.  
  • Construct a new viewing platform and picnic area below the Turners Falls Dam to provide a viewing experience of the falls in Montague. 
  • Construct a river access trail for fishing and non-motorized boats in Montague near FirstLight’s Station No. 1 hydro facility. 
  • Re-construct stairs leading from the Cabot Woods picnic area, upstream of FirstLight’s Cabot Station in Montague, to the river near the well-known “Rock Dam”, a natural bedrock ledge falls. 
  • Construct a portage trail around Rock Dam in Montague, allowing boaters to either avoid the natural falls or portage back upstream to repeat the Rock Dam feature. 
  • Improve Poplar Street river access in Montague by upgrading the parking lot and installing a gangway and floating dock. 

In the interest of conserving the natural beauty around the Projects and to safeguard the long-term use of the area, FirstLight will place conservation restrictions on over 761 acres of its lands along the Connecticut River. In consultation with Montague, FirstLight will also evaluate Cabot Camp for opportunities to preserve the historic structures or repurpose the property for recreation, should preservation not be possible. And, going forward, to promote the recreational use of the Project areas, FirstLight will provide real-time and forecasted data on water levels and flows on a publicly available website. 

Gomez and Sullivan is proud to have supported this Agreement through the development of conceptual plans and cost estimates for many of the recreation features described above.  Gomez and Sullivan’s GIS mapping resources were used extensively to assist stakeholders with understanding the geographic interaction of the Recreation Management Plan elements and mapping lands subject to conservation restrictions.  Gomez and Sullivan staff participated in the negotiations and helped to facilitate dialogue among the Parties. 

Gomez and Sullivan previously announced that on March 31, 2023, FirstLight filed a Flows and Fish Passage Settlement Agreement with FERC to resolve relicensing issues associated with migratory fish passage, and project operations relative to flows and water level management.  

Gomez and Sullivan would like to congratulate our colleagues at FirstLight and signatories on this momentous achievement. For more information on this Agreement please contact Mark Wamser at