article photo O8BobFnXz0LDA4nXBRDFq.jpg

Fall River Dam Relicensing Kicks Off (ID)

Posted: 06/18/2024
By: Kevin Colburn

The Fall River is home to a gem of a whitewater run flowing through a low canyon set in agricultural fields in Southeast Idaho, just west of Yellowstone National Park. A hydropower dam that regulates the flows in the whitewater run is up for relicensing starting this summer. The 5-year dam relicensing process will likely result in a new 30-50 year license for the dam in 2029. The new license could include improved instream flows and public access, and American Whitewater will be participating in the process with the help of local paddlers to seek such improvements. 


The whitewater run on the Fall River is a very fun section of river, featuring several miles of consistent Class III/IV whitewater with lots of moves, ample eddies, good surfing, and relatively few objective hazards. In other words, for lots of paddlers, it is a Class Fun river, and its popularity with local paddlers reflects this. 


Thanks to the current license for the dam, there are predictable opportunities to enjoy the river. Each spring flushing flows are required by the license to maintain 1,450cfs for the last three weeks in May or the first three weeks in June. This is in place to ensure the removal of accumulated sediments in the Fall River riverbed downstream of the diversion structure. There is also a requirement each year during the July 4 weekend to provide a minimum flow of 650 cfs in the Fall River downstream of the diversion structure during daytime hours for recreation purposes. 


While we embark on this new dam relicensing process on the Falls River, we continue to work on another similar process on the nearby Teton River, where we are working with local partners to improve public access and fish passage at a dam on another Class III-IV run.


Kevin Colburn

Asheville, NC

Full Profile

Associated Rivers

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!