Saturday, June 02, 2018

Farmers worry their livelihoods might be swept away as Utah, Idaho and Rocky Mountain Power eye new Bear Lake water plans

...With about 300 calves born there yearly, the riverside grasslands have been crucial to the Wheeler family’s ranching operations for over a century. So when Rocky Mountain Power officials approached Wheeler with an offer of $200,000 to take the meadows out of production, he declined. Selling the acreage, he said, would put him and future Wheeler generations out of business. “We don’t want to sell for $4,000 an acre, and we don’t want to sell for $4 million an acre. We’re not interested,” Wheeler said. “I’ve got three young children — 15 to 21 — and that’s where their heart is, in raising cattle and’s our way of life.” The Wheelers and others in southeastern Idaho’s Gentile Valley find themselves in the crosshairs of new plans for managing the Bear River, as Rocky Mountain Power, Utah's largest provider of electricity, seeks increased flexibility to operate its dams on the river in response to real-time demand for power. But to do that, the utility needs to store more water in Bear Lake — and permission to flood riverside farms downstream, with the potential of putting ranchers like Wheeler out of a livelihood...MORE

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