The Deerfield Runs All Year Long
by Cassie Hayden
Off season paddling opportunities are plentiful on the Deerfield
The Deerfield River is probably the most paddled river in New England due to its regular schedule of whitewater releases from Fife Brook dam and from #5 dam (the Monroe Bridge Dryway), but did you know that the Fife Brook section runs almost every day of the year?
In the federal dam relicensing process that took place in the early 1990s, Zoar Outdoor worked with other outfitters and private kayakers and canoeists to come up with a schedule of whitewater releases during the busiest part of the season. The final agreement resulted in 106 days a year of releases on the Fife Brook section and 32 days on the Monroe Bridge Dryway. These scheduled releases are the backbone of the recreational season on the Deerfield, but they're not the only opportunities to paddle on the river.
During the late fall, winter and early spring, the river runs to generate power and to move water downriver. We sometimes hear someone talking about the power company releasing more or less water in a given year as if it were their choice, over the long term (a month or more), about how much water to send down the river. But this ignores the fact that whatever rainfall lands in the Deerfield drainage has to eventually make its way to the ocean. So the power company can hold water back for a month or even for several months, but over a year, they pretty much need to release the water that comes down as rain or snow within that year.
The great thing about this is that it means that the Deerfield is available to paddle almost every day. It's still worth checking water line to be sure it's running, but the odds are in your favor. Hope to see you on the river this off-season!