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2011 Bear River Release Update (ID)

Posted: 03/25/2011
By: Kevin Colburn

Spring is definitely in the air and we want to give folks an update on the changes to expect this year for the Bear River Black Canyon whitewater releases, located in Southeastern Idaho.
When do whitewater flows occur in Black Canyon of the Bear?  No change here…the window for potential whitewater flows in Black Canyon is still weekends April 1 thru July 15th (excluding Memorial Day weekend and “Idaho free fishing day”) when the river flow exceeds 700 cfs.
There are expected to be whitewater flows during the 2011 season, but they are not scheduled in advance this year.  The scheduled releases that occurred during the previous three years were for ramping rate studies which are now complete.  Going forward the whitewater releases will be based on water availability.  The PacifiCorp website generally has the flow forecast looking forward one week.  The final decision as to whether a flow will occur on any given Saturday and/or Sunday will be posted on this website by noon on the preceding Thursday. 
Why can’t we have scheduled releases this year like previous years?  We have discussed scheduled recreation flows with PacifiCorp and will continue to do so, and hope to resolve these discussions in the coming year.
When are the releases most likely to occur this year?  Based on the recent forecast by the PacifiCorp hydrologist, the above average snow pack in the Bear headwaters currently looks like it will favor early season releases (April and May associated with spring runoff) rather than releases associated with irrigation flows later in the boating window (June~mid-July).  Please be aware that these are forecasts dependent on weather and snow melt and not guarantees of when there will be releases.
What can you do to help?  A few things would help greatly:

  • Continue to be good neighbors in the Grace area when attending the releases.  Boaters are visitors and some locals are still warming to the idea of us descending on them several times per year.  Spend money at places that are open (unfortunately many are not open on Sundays).  Watch your driving speed, particularly in posted areas such as the farm just before the dug way dropping into the Grace hydro plant on the way to the take out area.


  • Keep an eye on the Pacificorps website and safely enjoy these releases.  The scheduled flows to date have generally been well attended, the unscheduled flows not particularly well attended the past several years.


  • Remember to clean and disinfect your boat and gear when switching rivers.  The Bear is heavily infected with New Zealand mud snails and we don’t want to be a source of contamination on other rivers.

Kevin Colburn

Asheville, NC

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Bear River Restoration (ID)

Hydropower relicensing on the Bear River offered an opportunity to restore aquatic resources and recreational opportunities on this river.

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