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Bear River Dam Proposal Officially Dead

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Friday, June 17, 2016   

PRESTON, Idaho - A nearly 14-year battle to stop plans for a hydroelectric dam on the Bear River near Preston is over, after a federal decision on the project on Thursday.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied the application by Twin Lakes Canal Co. to build a 10-megawatt dam in an area popular with anglers and paddlers. Peter Anderson, counsel for the Idaho Water Project of Boise Trout Unlimited, said that section of the Bear River also is critical habitat for many types of fish.

"There's the fishing aspect of it, and then the Bear River has a lot of Bonneville cutthroat trout," Anderson said, "which we're desperately working to keep off the Endangered Species Act."

Anderson said damming the river would have flooded a sensitive area and raised the water temperature below the dam, which harms the fish. FERC denied the application in part because a portion of the area that would be flooded is considered suitable for designation as a Wild and Scenic River.

Anderson said he believes there are other ways to ensure that farmers downstream get enough water.

"The Twin Lakes Canal Co. people are good people," he said, "and they're just trying to find the best way forward. We would really like to work with them to find another avenue, like fixing their leaky canals, to provide water for their patrons."

Multiple conservation and sportsman groups, including Idaho Rivers United and the Franklin County Fish and Game Association, joined forces to defeat Twin Lakes Canal Co.'s request for water rights back in 2012, but the company pursued the case with FERC nonetheless.

More information is online at ferc.gov.


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