Back to Home Page

Local Links
Sun Valley Guide
Hemingway in Sun Valley
Real Estate

For the week of Nov. 17, 1999 through Nov. 23, 1999

A river won

A long battle over diverting and de-watering the North Fork of the Payette River ended quietly in October.

The last threat to the roiling torrent that is the hallmark of a drive up Idaho’s scenic Highway 55 disappeared when Gem Irrigation withdrew its application to divert water from the river for power production.

In 1991, the Idaho Legislature designated the North Fork as a protected river. The designation banned hydropower projects, but the threat to the river didn’t disappear because Gem Irrigation’s application for diversion had existed since 1986.

The threat to the river catalyzed formation of Idaho Rivers United. Its leaders organized grassroots opposition to the diversion and energetically lobbied the legislature for protection.

The leaders of Idaho Rivers United will not retire as millionaires as a result of their efforts. They won’t end up with fat 401-Ks at retirement. Instead of an executive suite, they will have to be satisfied with a nice rock at riverside. Few people probably even know their names.

In an age in which the ups and downs of the stock market are reported by the minute, it’s heartening to see that a group of under-funded underrated optimists, with more interest in their kayaks than their bank accounts, can succeed.

It’s also heartening to know that with enough public support, Idaho’s leaders will protect what’s left of the state’s outdoor legacy from destruction.

Count the Payette as a river won. Count Idahoans as indebted to those who fought to protect it.


Back to Front Page
Copyright 1999 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.