Recreation is the last major benefit that will be discussed. This benefit is also somewhat different from the others. When hydroelectric and reservoir storage projects were proposed, more recreation was not the driving force behind their creation. rather, opportunities for new and additional recreation came with development of a project. Such opportunities were used to meet local and regional needs as well as address impacts caused by construction. Each year, for instance, about 450,000 thousand people pass through the Grand Coulee Dam Visitor Center.
Examples of recreation opportunities that stem from project development include fishing, swimming, waterskiing, picnicking, camping, hiking, rafting, boating and sightseeing. Often, developing these opportunities were part of receiving a license to develop and operate a project. Now that some of these projects are being relicensed, which generally occurs after a project has been in existence for 30 years, maintenance and further development of many recreation sites is being reviewed.
The number and diversity of recreational opportunities associated with hydroelectric projects is indeed remarkable. Each year, hundreds of thousands of individuals take extended vacations, weekend and day trips to access these opportunities. Looking at a directory of recreational sites associated with non-Federal hydroelectric projects tells the story better than words.