AUBURN — City officials are hoping to make expanded recreation along the Little Androscoggin River part of a renewed federal hydroelectric dam license.

Dam owner KEI Power Management has started applying for a new license that would let it continue operating its 1,250-kilowatt hydroelectric dam on the Little Androscoggin, upstream from Barker Mill Arms. The firm’s 30-year license expires in 2019, according to Planning Director Eric Cousens.

“So they are really jumping into this on the front end and taking five years to do their application,” he said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licenses the company to operate the small turbine generator on the river.

Cousens said the city thinks there is room to expand recreation.

“The company’s filing doesn’t see any need to study more recreation because there are not that many people using the river right now,” Cousens said. “Our argument is that there are not many people using it because there is not proper access. We’ll be asking for a recreational study that looks at how access can be improved.”

Volunteers and the Androscoggin Land Trust have worked to reopen a walking trail that runs along the eastern bank of the Little Androscoggin River, from Barker Mill south.

FERC is taking comments from interested parties on the license, and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and American Whitewater have already filed theirs.

“We’ll file ours by July 17,” Cousens said. “This is very early and all we have to look at is a pre-application and these comments will help them put together a complete application.”

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