Mill Pond Historic Site is awaiting visitors

| July 22, 2020 1:00 AM

The Mill Pond Historic Site on the Newport-Sullivan Lake Ranger District is back open to visitors.

After being closed for construction since July 2017, the former hydroelectric dam site opened July 11, featuring a new picnic pavilion, renovated picnic sites, and a parking area, according to Colville National Forest staff and partners, Seattle City Light and the Pend Oreille PUD. A new trail system with two dramatic footbridges over Sullivan Creek, includes connections to Mill Pond Flume Trail No. 520 and Mill Pond Campground, as well as fishing access paths to Sullivan Creek.

On March 20, 2013, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order granting a new license for the Boundary Hydroelectric Project. To address impacts of Boundary Dam, a major focus of the license is to restore native westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout with a strong focus in Sullivan Creek. To this end, removal of Mill Pond Dam was identified as a key project because it removes an obstacle to fish passage and allows for the movement of sediment downstream, which is critical for healthy native fish habitat.

Originally constructed in 1910, Mill Pond Dam stopped producing power in 1956 when Pend Oreille County PUD determined it was infeasible to operate due to the cost of repairs and needed upgrades. Seattle City Light worked with the PUD and after more than 100 years, the original habitat has now been restored with a complex multi-thread stream and a dynamic floodplain that promotes native habitat for fish, plants and wildlife.

Due to limited services at this site, visitors are asked to come prepared to be self-reliant and practice leave no trace etiquette, ranger district staff said. Visitors are asked to follow all temporary sign notifications and use caution when entering or leaving the site. In addition, ranger district staff remind that the site it not accessible to RVs or trailers.

Those wishing to visit the mill pond site are advised to review current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with local and state guidelines, for physical distancing and cloth face coverings.

Information: 509-684-7000 or facebook.com/colvillenf