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Ross Lake, The History

Ross Lake is a reservoir formed by the containment of the Skagit River at Ross Dam to generate hydroelectric power for Seattle City Light. The size and water elevation is controlled by the water release schedule at Ross Dam. At full pool, usually in late spring, Ross Lake extends approximately 2 kms into British Columbia, Canada.

Prior to filling the flood area the trees were removed...

The Skagit River provides around thirty percent of the freshwater flow to the Puget Sound basin. The river is largely free-flowing – save for a trio of dams that provide power to the city of Seattle – and features healthy populations of salmon, bald eagles, and snow geese. Ross Lake, formed by the Ross Dam, extends into British Columbia. Although the IJC does not have any Orders or References active on the Skagit River at this time, in 1984 it brokered an agreement for a "paper dam" giving the City of Seattle access to power from British Columbia at costs similar to the financing an increase in height for the Ross Dam which would have flooded 2,000 hectares of land in BC.

The following two photos are by A. J. Fedoruk, BC Parks, Skagit Valley Provincial Park. 

Ross Lake

Ross Lake is a 24 mile long reservoir. The Upper Skagit River valley that once contained the winding Skagit River was logged and as Ross Dam was raised, became a lake.

Many visitors to Ross Lake come for camping, boating and hiking recreation experiences. 19 water access campsites. Trailheads for several popular hiking trails found via shore access. Ross Lake is scheduled to be at full pool in late spring each year to ensure these recreational sites remain accessible. Seattle City Light also manages water levels for flood control and migrating fish populations downstream that require adequate flows at critical times of the year. With climate changing to an earlier in the year snowmelt and resulting less runoff it has become in recent years to sufficiently refill the reservoir each year.  More information on this NCI blog post.

That section of the Ross Lake shoreline between the full-pool level and drawdown level is called a riparian area. Innovative projects to minimize erosion in this shoreline are carried out with funding from Seattle City light, sometimes by SEEC and usually implemented by the North Cascades National Park Service. Ross Lake National Recreational Area is a land management unit of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex and encircles the entire USA Ross Lake area.

Ross Lake (North End) at Low Pool with stumps of the removed forest exposed, and at Full Pool.

Photo Credit: AJ Fedoruk Photo Credit: AJ Fedoruk