The Idaho Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers recognizes the importance, and the challenges, of balancing our state's water needs - for business and residential purposes, recreation, and the needs of sportsmen and wildlife. The release of the Henry's Fork Basin Study Final Report prompts our response on the various final options being proposed. We feel that some of these options balance and take into account the needs of sportsmen, wildlife and habitat better than others.
The Teton River Canyons are one of the last strongholds for Yellowstone cutthroat trout, labeled a "Species of Concern" by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. In addition, IDFG has previously identified the Teton River Canyons as critical winter habitat for Teton Range elk herds, and significant numbers of mule deer (whose populations are declining across the West), among numerous other native species. Hunters and anglers cannot afford to see this important habitat lost, and the resulting negative impacts on our publicly-owned wildlife, as a result of rebuilding Teton Dam and the inundation of the Teton River Canyons. Nor can local outfitters and other businesses that rely on sportsman dollars afford to lose a very unique native fishery.
We also have questions, given the geographic location of proposed structural solutions, of negative impacts on Wyoming game and fish populations, and the game populations that inhabit Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks for some portion of the year. We are concerned that there has been inadequate consulting with Wyoming agencies on these projects, given that Wyoming will share wildlife impacts.
- Idaho BHA does not support the rebuilding of the Teton Dam.
- For similar reasons, and given the sensitive nature of the Badger Creek wildlife corridor, ID BHA would not support a dam and reservoir on Badger Creek, an important tributary of the Teton.
- Another identified option is the creation of the artificial reservoir, Lane Lake. While it may be preferable to the rebuilding of the Teton Dam, it still raises serious concerns. How will it affect the hydrology of the Teton River? How will invasive species be guaranteed to be completely mitigated (an issue that has played out time and time again with the creation of reservoirs)? We cannot afford to have invasive species such as smallmouth bass, pike, nor even additional numbers of non-native species of trout, introduced accidentally into the Teton watershed, putting YCT at further risk.
- Given the existing footprint of the present dams at Ashton and Island Park, and the minimal potential for negative impacts on wildlife/public habitat, ID BHA would support the extension of these two dams, and we feel that this is a preferable, if partial, solution.
- ID BHA also supports the non-structural conservation and groundwater recharge options being proposed in the final report.
Link to the Henry's Fork Basin Study Final Report and Comment Form
(comments are due by March 6th):
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