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AW and Partners Fight a Proposed Dam in Northern Idaho

Posted: 02/16/2012
by Kevin Colburn

Last week American Whitewater and a group of regional environmental organizations intervened in opposition of a proposed dam and diversion on northern Idaho's Boundary Creek.  The proposed hydropower project would de-water a spectacular and remote whitewater stream, and would impact a stunning array of rare, threatened, and endangered species. 

The proposed hydropower project would consist of a small dam that would divert virtually all the water from Boundary Creek through a pipe to a powerhouse 7 miles downstream. The pipe would be buried in highly unstable soils along the creek, where the US Forest Service recently removed an old road and restored the area to protect the stream from erosion.  The project would only generate significant power during the spring high water season when there is a glut of cheap hydropower on the regional energy market.  

The contruction, operation, and vehicular access to the project is expected to impact endangered mountain caribou, grizzly bears, canadian lynx, wolves, bald eagles, and other rare species of wildlife.  In the stream itself impacts are expected on endangered bull trout, as well as redband trout, burbot, and a run of kokanee salmon that are an important source of nutrients for endangered Kootenai River White Sturgeon that live just downstream in the Kootenai River.  Paddlers can expect a "hell-or-high water " scenario similar to next-door Smith Creek, where hydropower operations would result in either too much or too little water, and make paddling virtually impossible.  

If this proposed project sounds familiar, it should.  A similar project was proposed in 1998, and was defeated because of its severe anticipated environmental impacts. American Whitewater was joined by Idaho Conservation League, Idaho Rivers United, the Lands Council, and the Selkirk Conservation Alliance in asking the federal government (FERC) to deny this proposal without additional consideration.  

You can read our intervention and comments here.   

Associated Rivers

Boundary Creek ID

Associated Projects

Boundary Creek (ID)
AW lead the charge to stop a dam and diversion project from being built on Northern Idaho's stunning and remote Boundary Creek.