TU in Race to Protect Idaho's Teton River

Wed, 06/09/2010


Kim G. Trotter, (208) 552-0891 x 712
Randy Scholfield, (720) 375-3961

TU in Race to Protect Idaho's Teton River

Conservation group participates in Teton Dam marathon to raise awareness of dam threat

(Rexburg) –Trout Unlimited is joining the Teton Dam marathon, one of Eastern Idaho's premier events, to raise awareness about the natural resources of the 17-mile wild canyon, which it calls a "hidden gem" that is in danger of being inundated by a new dam and reservoir.

The annual race near Rexburg, which draws some 1,300 runners from across the nation, commemorates the Teton Dam disaster and the Rexburg community's relief efforts. The dam collapsed in 1976, killing 11 and causing more than $1 billion in damage.

The race, which begins near the old dam ruins, is also an opportunity to celebrate the Teton Canyon's natural resources, said Kim Trotter, TU's Idaho Water Project director. The conservation group, one of the sponsors of the event, is hosting an educational booth about the canyon's resources at the finish line Expo and is also entering a relay team.

"A lot of Idahoans don't know about the incredible beauty and ecological significance of the Teton Canyon," she said. "It's a wonderful local resource that needs to be protected."

The canyon is one of the last strongholds of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. And it provides an important refuge for trumpeter swans, bald eagles, and winter herds of mule deer and elk. The BLM is studying the canyon as a candidate for Wild and Scenic status.

The canyon provides economic benefits as well, Trotter noted. Several outfitters guide trips in the canyon, which attracts anglers, boaters and hunters who spend money in local restaurants, shops and hotels.

In 2009, the state of Idaho and Bureau of Reclamation launched plans to study rebuilding Teton Dam. After months of talks with TU and other conservation groups, the BOR announced in April that it would broaden the study to look at a range of options, including underground aquifer storage, municipal conservation and water system efficiencies.

TU calls that a step in the right direction.

"We're going to be monitoring this study closely," said Trotter. "Teton Dam doesn't make sense from an environmental or economic standpoint. There are better, win-win options for Eastern Idaho."

BOR will host the first of several Henry's Fork basin storage study meetings on Tue., June 15 at 8 a.m. at the Mountain View Inn in Rexburg. The meeting is open to the public. TU is urging local citizens to attend.

Trotter likened the study to a marathon. "It's a long, demanding process," she said. "But we're in this for the long haul, to make sure the study is done right."

"It's important the public understands what's going on and gets involved," added Trotter. "Idaho flooded this canyon once - let's not make the same mistake twice."


Trout Unlimited is the nation's largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America's trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.


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