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Idaho Water Dept. turns down Bear River dam permit

The Idaho Department of Water Resources rejected a proposal to build a dam on the Bear River.

The Twin Lakes Canal Co. filed an application with the agency in 2007 to build a 700-foot-long, 108-foot-high dam in Oneida Narrows near Preston in eastern Idaho. The proposed dam would have created a reservoir with a surface area spanning more than half a mile.

The river already has three hydroelectric dams operated by PacifiCorp Energy, and the proposal for a fourth attracted vigorous opposition from anglers, recreationists and environmentalists.

Andrea Santarsiere of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition said the conservation group was happy with the decision involving the last free-flowing section of the Bear River that’s accessible to the public,

“We commend the department for recognizing that keeping the river free-flowing has benefits to the imperiled native Bonneville cutthroat trout, wildlife, recreational use. All of that would have been lost if the dam went forward,” Santarsiere said.

Officials with the Twin Lakes Canal Co. didn’t immediately return a call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The company wanted to build the dam because it typically doesn’t have enough water to irrigate all the land of its shareholders.

In the written decision denying the permit, Idaho Water Resources Department officials said the public has an interest in augmenting the water supply to farmers, but the benefits of building the dam don’t outweigh the benefits of keeping the river as is.


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