Teton River Named One of America’s Most Endangered Rivers for 2010

New dam would waste taxpayer dollars, threatens river health

June 2nd, 2010

<p>Scott Bosse, American Rivers, (406) 570-0455 <br />Kevin Lewis, Idaho Rivers United, (208) 343-7481 <br />Peter Anderson, Trout Unlimited, (208) 345-9800 </p>

Washington, DC — Rebuilding the Teton Dam would waste taxpayer dollars and threatens the Teton River’s popular recreational fishery and whitewater boating. This threat landed the Teton in the number eight spot in America’s Most Endangered Rivers™: 2010 edition, produced by American Rivers.

“Rebuilding an unsafe and unnecessary dam on the Teton River would be irresponsible, especially when more cost-effective and reliable water supply solutions exist,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers.

American Rivers and its partners called on the state of Idaho and the Bureau of Reclamation to promote more cost-effective water supply solutions that focus on conservation and smarter water management. 

“We need to manage our limited water supplies wisely, and building an expensive new dam that would rarely fill is not wise management,” said Kevin Lewis, Conservation Program Director of Idaho Rivers United.

“My business and dozens of other businesses in the area depend on a free-flowing Teton River and its healthy native trout fishery.  To destroy the river by damming it would be criminal,” said Randy Berry, owner of Teton Valley Lodge in Driggs, Idaho. 

“We need wild places like the Teton Canyon,” said Peter Anderson, program attorney for Trout Unlimited’s Idaho Water Project. “Rebuilding Teton Dam would be a huge, expensive boondoggle and a catastrophe for the canyon’s spectacular and irreplaceable natural resources.  In this time of budget constraints, Idaho’s leaders should work together to find more practical, commonsense solutions to our water supply needs.”

The Idaho Legislature has appropriated $400,000 to fund a study on rebuilding the Teton Dam, which is supported by Idaho Governor Butch Otter and the State Water Board.

Rebuilding the Teton Dam would destroy vital habitat for Yellowstone cutthroat trout and other fish and wildlife.  The dam would also create a barrier to higher elevation tributary streams, preventing fish from reaching the cool habitat they will need as the climate warms. Moreover, it would destroy a tremendous wild river recreational resource. 

The Teton is one of the few remaining free-flowing rivers in eastern Idaho.  It is the site of one of the worst dam failures in the United States.  In 1976, the Teton Dam (a federally built earthen dam) failed, killing 11 people and 13,000 cattle.  The river canyon has recovered to provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife including native Yellowstone cutthroat trout.

About America’s Most Endangered Rivers

Each year, American Rivers reviews nominations for the America’s Most Endangered Rivers™  report from river groups and concerned citizens across the country. Rivers are selected based upon the following criteria:

  • A major decision (that the public can help influence) in the coming year on the proposed action
  • The significance of the threat to human and natural communities
  • The degree to which the proposed action would exacerbate or alleviate stresses caused by climate change

The report is a call to action and emphasizes solutions for the rivers and their communities. By shining the spotlight on key decisions that will impact the rivers, and by providing clear actions the public can take on their behalf, the report is a powerful tool for saving these important rivers.

America’s Most Endangered Rivers™ is sponsored by Orvis, the oldest mail order company in the US, which has been outfitting customers for the sporting traditions since 1856. Orvis is a long-time supporter of American Rivers.  This is the second consecutive year that they have sponsored America’s Most Endangered Rivers and have also provided American Rivers with a 2010 Conservation Grant.  Orvis donates 5% of their pre-tax profits annually to protect nature.
American Rivers Senior Vice President for Conservation Andrew Fahlund and Northern Rockies Director Scott Bosse are available for interviews, both pre and post embargo.  Please contact Amy Kober, 206-898-3864 for booking.

Reporters wishing to direct readers to the report online may use the following link:  www.AmericanRivers.org/EndangeredRivers


About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.