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Boise, Idaho • An analysis by federal authorities of a proposed dam in southeast Idaho on the Bear River has resulted in a recommendation against going forward with the project.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Wednesday released a draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Bear River Narrows Project that had a staff recommendation to deny issuing a license.
The Twin Lakes Canal Company wants to build a 109-foot-high dam with a 10-megawatt powerhouse. The 362-acre reservoir would provide irrigation water.
"We're meeting with attorneys and other people who have been working on this for 10 years," said Clair Bosen, the company's president. He declined to make additional comments.
The federal agency in the 504-page document said the public benefits of not building the dam outweigh the public benefits of building it.
Idaho Rivers United has fought against the dam. "To date millions of dollars have been spent restoring portions of the Bear River, and this dam would have destroyed one of the river's last free-flowing stretches," Kevin Lewis, the group's conservation director, said in a statement.
The federal agency cited the potential loss of 4.5 miles of river, 425 acres of wildlife habitat and the scenic Oneida Narrows as among the reasons to reject the project.
Building the dam would result in the "loss of a section of the Bear River with outstandingly remarkable recreational, geologic, and wildlife values, as designated by (U.S. Bureau of Land Management) in its wild and scenic eligibility report," the document said.
The agency has the authority to issue licenses for up to 50 years for such projects.
"Based on a review of the anticipated environmental and economic effects of the proposed project and its alternatives, as well as the agency and public comments filed on this project, staff recommends no action (license denial) as the preferred alternative," the document states.
The agency is taking comments on its denial recommendation through Nov. 30. The agency will then make a final decision, though it's not clear when that will happen.