Bear River Commission Meeting
Tues., Nov. 13th, 2001
The following are my notes from the Operations Meeting and the General Meeting of the Bear River Commission.
Bear Lake Regional Commission - Craig Thomas
The Bear Lake Regional Commission officially supports any new additional water storage on the Bear River that would be beneficial to Bear Lake.
The Regional Commission also would like to see better coordination of cloud seeding efforts so that "down wind' areas would not be affected. Utah is presently spending approx. 25% of its cloud seeding dollars in the Bear River Basin.
PacifiCorp - Kelly Holt
DREDGING PERMIT STATUS - The Cops of Engineers is still processing PacifiCorps request for a 10 year permit to dredge Bear Lake in order to fulfill their water contracts with downstream irrigators. PacifiCorp must address the issues and concerns raised at public meetings and from written comments with the Corps of Engineers by Jan. 15th.2002. The issues and concerns fall into three main categories: 1) alternatives to dredging. 2) effect on the lake level and 3) effect of dredging. The Corps then has 30-45 days to answer.
FERC RELICENSING OF POWERPLANTS - PacifiCorp is currently in Stage 3 of the relicensing process for the 3 downstream power plants in Idaho. Basically, this means that a draft Environmental Impact Study (EIS) is being prepared. In an effort to improve the chances of relicensing, PacifiCorp wants to amend their request to show a greater public concern in several areas. Mentioned were: a Bonneville Cutthroat Trout restoration plan, minimum stream flows, recreational stream flows and a water quality plan. This may result in an amended relicensing application, or just side letters of agreement. Either way, the proposals will be included in the draft EIS which then gives the public time to respond before the final EIS is written.
BEAR LAKE AS PART OF FERC RELICENSING - On Nov. 8th, 2001, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its report concluding that "Bear Lake is therefore not part of a complete unit of development, and is not required to be licensed." The rational was that Bear Lake provides no power generation benefit. The motions to intervene from Bear Lake Wtch, American Whitewater Affiliation and Idaho Rivers Unitedwere heard, but eventually denied, as was the Bear Lake Watch motion for a rehearing.
Bonneville Cutthroat Trout - Sue Lowry
In Feb. 1998, the Fish & Wildlife Service received a petition to list the Bonneville Cutthroat Trout as an endangered species. After a very thorough (and unusually lengthy) review of the petition, on Oct. 9, 2001, the FWS determined that the Bonneville Cutthroat Trout should not be listed under the Endangered Species Act - either as "threatened or endangered". All three states have individual programs to improve trout habitat, stream flows, etc. Wyoming has several applications to insure minimum stream flows based upon the viability of fisheries. For more information see www.rb.fws.gov/endsupp/fish/bct
Water Emergencies - D. Barnett
Upper Division - A water emergency could have been declared last year but the water users didn't request one. Upon examination of the stream flows, a declaration of a water emergency would not have given users significantly more water. This was because there was only a natural stream flow and very little releases from Woodruff Narrows.
Central Division - This division was in a water emergency almost all season.
Lower Division - There was no declaration of a water emergency. They did have two mock emergencies and reported that there was good cooperation between states, a rapid response time and a good learning expericnce.
Water Quality - Ostler
There are ongoing water quality meetings with the three states.
An EPA grant for $30,000 was received to help facilitate and implement water quality improvement in the Bear River Basin.
Bear River Commission
Last years tour of the Upper Division was discussed. Donors were thanked. Noticeably absent was any mention of Bear LakeWatch. Three possible tours were discussed for next year - a water quality seminar, a Bear Lake seminar, and a Bear Lake tour ( includingfrom Border to Rainbow Canal). The decision will be made by the April meeting.
The next meeting will be held April 16th, 2002 at 1pm.