Feds reject proposed dam on Bear River in southeastern Idaho

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Federal authorities have rejected a request by an irrigation company in southeastern Idaho to build a dam on the Bear River.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday voted to deny Twin Lakes Canal Co.’ license application for a 109-foot-high dam with a 10-megawatt powerhouse.

“While we recognize the potential benefits of the Bear River Narrows Project, we conclude, consistent with staff’s findings, that the project’s unmitigable adverse impacts outweigh its benefits such that we must deny the application,” the commission wrote in a 19-page decision.

The commission cited the popularity of the area among hikers, campers, wildlife watchers, river-based anglers, whitewater kayakers and tubing enthusiasts in its decision. The report cites the canal company’s estimate that the area draws more than 55,000 recreation day visits a year, about 47 percent of those for angling and 38 percent for whitewater boating and tubing.

The canal company, which began the attempt to get a license for the project more than a decade ago, said the proposed reservoir would have provided irrigation water to about 230 farmers and ranchers.

“We don’t’ know whether we will appeal or not,” said Twin Lakes Canal Co. President Clair Bosen. “We will look at our options and make a decision.”

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