Camas Prairie, Elmore County, Idaho

All posts by Tim Bondy

A Pine, Idaho Homeowner Explains Why “The Project” is Bad for the County

Elk and mule deer migration patterns be disrupted.

  • The Cat Creek Energy site would be built within a major migration corridor for mule deer, elk, pronghorn, raptors, and fish and other animals like bats.
  • The Cat Creek Energy site would be built in important sage grouse habitat.
  • The Cat Creek Energy site would affect our fishery and water quality.
  • The Cat Creek Energy site would create unacceptable noise pollution on Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

On May 16, 2019, Judge Nancy Baskin will have the opportunity to hear oral arguments that support the fact that the actions of Elmore County in regards to the Cat Creek Energy project approval were invalid. As a result we expect the judge will remand the project back to the Director of the P&Z Commission as early as July of this year.

Below you can read for yourself another of the many reasons we believe Judge Baskin will rule that the CUP approval process and the subsequent 2019 Development Agreement between Cat Creek and Elmore County were legally and procedural flawed.

 

Reference: Page 14 of the Petition for Judicial Review document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

Another opponent of the Project, Wendi Combs, a resident of Pine, Idaho, testified that the Project does not belong on Anderson Ranch Reservoir. She stated that “according to Fish and Game, the proposed site does lie within a major migration corridor for mule deer, elk, pronghorn, raptors, and fish and other animals like bats.

The area is an important sage grouse habitat. Sage grouse do not like tall structures, such as wind turbines, power lines, and towers. Displacement, avoidance and reduced nesting success are well documented.

Fish and Game are concerned about water quality impacts, entrainment of fish, particularly the bull trout, and endangered species. “We’re not talking about one, but six silos pumping water up and down the reservoir 24/7, 365 days a year,” their words in quotes.

Then there is the noise pollution that will affect all the surrounding neighbors and campsites rendering them practically useless for solace and enjoyment.

We invite you to read the full 64 pages of the Judicial Review document that S Bar Ranch filed with Fourth Judicial District of Idaho to right this Cat Creek Energy wrong.

Download the document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

Take Action

Please help us stop the Cat Creek Energy project from moving forward. Contact County Commissioners Bud Corbus, Wes Wootan and Al Hofer and tell them you are opposed to this ill-conceived mega-energy project.

You can use the county website “Contact Form” at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/

or

See https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/

Thanks.

 

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More Are Concerned About Our Big Game Migration Corridors

Now is the time to have dialogue as a community and share knowledge about how we can create sustainable methods for protecting wildlife, while still respecting the need for ranches and farms. It’s about coexisting,” said Hunt To Eat Owner, Mahting Putelis.

We know many local hunters, outdoorsmen and wildlife enthusiasts are dead set against the Cat Creek Energy project that is planned for the backcountry of Elmore County. We all realize that this mega-energy project will have adverse affects on our deer, elk, pronghorn, raptor and game bird populations, as wells as our local fishery and water quality. Our local group of concerned citizens have friends in neighboring states also.

The Idaho Wildlife Federation (IWF) is teaming up with “Hunt to Eat” to raise awareness and to educate people about wildlife migrations issues in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho.

The Wildlife Federation and Hunt to Eat have organized a series of kickoff “migration” celebrations with the second event party set for Boise on May 1, 2019. This may be a good event to connect with others in the area to talk about protecting our deer, elk and pronghorn migration corridors in Elmore County.

Connect With Others

Connect with the Idaho Wildlife Federation on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/IDWildlife/ or through their website at https://www.idahowildlife.org/

Connect with Hunt to Eat on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hnt2eat/ or on their website at https://hunttoeat.com/blogs/conservation/celebrating-wildlife-migrations?fbclid=IwAR1YDJf0Zs-ulhzr6zAQ8jBShpaQTWYsBHmNeWDVltAw-yS2qGGYrIW6JZI

Mark your calendar for this May 1, 2019 event in Boise and watch the above online links for more details about the celebration as it unfolds.

 

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Why “Harry” Believes Judge Baskin Will Remand the Cat Creek Energy Project Back to P & Z

Taken on Peak 5915 looking over the Castle Rocks and Wood Creek area of Elmore County, Idaho

 

Many Elmore County residents believe a District Court judge should remand the entire Cat Creek Energy project approval back to the County Planning and Zoning Commission (P & Z) for new and honest hearings. Our entire “Petition for Judicial Review” document is filled with legal, moral and ethical reason why we believe the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) erred in approving this ill-conceived project. A project covering 3,730 acres in the Elmore County, Idaho backcountry.

Hunting, Fishing, Wildlife and Scenic Beauty is at Stake

We realize how time-consuming attending the P & Z Commission meetings, hearing and deliberations in 2016 became. No one really believed Elmore County would every approve the Cat Creek Energy project. And those people were right. The P & Z Commission denied the permits Cat Creek Energy needed to begin the process of getting state and federal approval for their mega-energy project.

But then in 2017, the Elmore County Commissioners overruled their own P & Z Commission and handed that Gooding-based corporation the keys to our very own backcountry, the Anderson Ranch Reservoir and South Fork of the Boise River fishery, and will threaten our elk, deer and pronghorn populations.

Local Mountain Home, Idaho, resident Harry Taggart, “aka Skip,” testified in front of our county officials and offered the following facts …

Reference: Pages 10 and 11 of the Petition for Judicial Review document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

Harry Taggart, a resident of Mountain Home spoke and informed the Commissioners that he hunts and fishes throughout the South Fork of the Boise River basin, that he opposes the Project “because it would destroy the scenic beauty and environmental diversity of the area known as Wood Creek, which is right at the very doorstep of our splendid Boise and Sawtooth National Forests.”

Mr. Taggart also informed the Commissioners that he has “read and understood the Elmore County Comprehensive Plan, as well as Title 6, Chapter 14 of the Elmore County zoning and development ordinance defining areas of critical concern, which the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission is lawfully charged with protecting” and that he had read the minutes of the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to deliberate Cat Creek Energy’s applications and he “agree[s] with the Commissions unanimous rejection of multiple Cat Creek Energy permit applications because they fall short of compliance with a minimum of 12 different Comprehensive Plan standards.

Harry Was Right Back Then and is Still Right

  • Destroying the scenic beauty of our backcounty with 500-foot tall wind turbines will not benefit the residents of Elmore County.

  • In approving the Cat Creek Energy Project, Commissioners Wes Wootan, Bud Corbus, and Al Hofer made a ruling in direct conflict with the county’s own Comprehensive Plan.

You can download and review the entire Petition for Judicial Review at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

 

Take Action

Please help us stop the Cat Creek Energy project from moving forward. Contact County Commissioners Bud Corbus, Wes Wootan and Al Hofer and tell them you are opposed to this ill-conceived mega-energy project.

You can use the county website “Contact Form” at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/

In addition, many of our elected officials from city mayor and on up the line to U.S. Senators could use some feedback from you. If you need their names or point of contact, we’ve created a list at https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/

 

Thanks.

 

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Increased Concern for Big Game in the Cat Creek Energy Project Area

On February 9, 2018, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) signed Order 3362 in an effort to protect and preserve wintering habitat and migration corridors in the western U.S for elk, deer, and pronghorn. Within that order is the Smoky Boise Complex area experts believe need special consideration and protection. That complex includes all of the Cat Creek Energy project footprint.

We have been saying for the past year that the proposed Cat Creek Energy project needs to be shut down. And we also have stated our concerns with the elk and deer migration corridor running directly through the landscape this mega-energy project in the backcountry of Elmore County would be built on.

Please take a close look at the map (https://catcreek-energy.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Smoky-Boise-Complex.jpg) and you’ll see our elk, deer and a sizable number of pronghorns live, winter and migrate through this area. Cat Creek Energy has yet to address any of the problems associated with the 500-foot tall wind turbine complex, the 590 acres of fenced in solar panels nor the destruction of habitat that will come from a new 100,000 acre/foot reservoir.

Reference: Please download and review the 25-page document and do your own research. Direct download at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/975/

Here are a few things the DOI said in Order 3362

Energy Development is not Compatible With Big Game Species

Many wildlife species must migrate each year to survive as individuals and populations. Land uses such as residential and energy development, fences, roads, and large scale habitat changes due to wildfire or noxious/invasive weeds degrade winter range and disrupt migration routes that allow animals to move from one place to another. Such effects can not only reduce wildlife population growth but can also reduce the harvestable surplus of game species available for hunting, leading to decreases in hunting opportunity and hunters, resulting in an adverse impact to Idaho’s economy and cultural values.

DOI Tells Fish & Game to Protect Migration Pathways

Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) and other partners are now only beginning to understand the full scope of how and where movement and migration help sustain native wildlife. It is important for IDFG and stakeholders to manage and conserve the wildlife, their important migration and movement pathways, and associated seasonal habitats such as winter range.

The Complex Identity

Smoky Boise Complex – Winter Range – N of I84 Boise to Mountain Home and US 20 Cat Creek Summit to Hill City

Why this Area was selected: Safety due to wildlife-vehicle collisions. Largest mule deer herd in the state. The area provides and important south aspect winter range for elk and mule deer in the Bennett Mountains and north of I84. It includes summer range in the Upper Boise River – Smokey Area areas and migration areas across US 20.
Habitat types: Primarily sagebrush steppe in the Owyhee Uplands ecological section. Important stopover areas within the corridor: Winter range of south facing Danskin Mountains and foothills to the north of I84. Upper Camas Prairie and the lower Solider Mountains

What Can You Do?

We’ve asked you to contact all three of the Elmore County Commissioners for the past year. It’s still imperative that these commissioners understand you are opposed to the entire Cat Creek Energy project. Use this link to contact the Board of County Commissioners at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/

We now ask that you contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to let them know:

  • The Cat Creek Energy project sits in the middle of a critical wildlife migration and wintering complex.

  • You are opposed to the Cat Creek Energy project.

  • And

  • The D F & G should also state their opposition to the Cat Creek Energy project unless they are looking to decrease the total number of elk and deer in Hunting Units 39, 43, 44 & 45.

Call

 

Thanks for your help in stopping the Cat Creek Energy project.

 

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Will Local Tourism Dollars go Elsewhere Because of Cat Creek Energy?

Our local tourism industry will suffer because of the Cat Creek Energy project.

On February 10, 2017, the Elmore County Commissioner voted to approve five conditional use permits (CUPs) for the Cat Creek Energy mega-project. That approval went against the ruling of the Elmore County Planning and Zoning Commission who denied those same five permits to the Gooding-based company on July 13, 2016.

That unfortunate reversal quite possibly will damage our fledgling Elmore County tourism industry just when the city and others are looking to pour time and money into local tourism.

How Will Cat Creek Energy Damage Tourism?

During a public hearing on November 17, 2016, local resident, Nancy Thompson provided the following testimony:

Reference: Page 13 of the Petition for Judicial Review document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

 

Among several others who provided negative comments about the Project, Nancy Thompson, a resident of Mountain Home and the owner of a vacation home in the Featherville area, testified that she sits on the travel tourism committee, and is manager of the visitor’s center in Mountain Home.

She told the Commissioners that they get over 8,000 visitors every year, many from other countries, and they come to Idaho to see what the nature and the meaning of Idaho is about. Tourism brings about $7 million a year into Elmore County. They are sent on a scenic drive that is called the “Boise, Sun Valley Historic Loop Tour” that goes through Lowman, Idaho City, Stanley, Hailey, Fairfield, across the Camas Prairie, into Mountain Home and back to Boise.

They return to the center and comment on what a beautiful drive it is. She added: “I can’t imagine that I’m going to get the same kind of comments from these visitors when they come back to tell us what they’ve done when they cross up over the top of Cat Creek Summit and see wind turbines and solar panels. Ugly is as ugly does. You can’t make them beautiful. You can’t make them blend in.”

And under that glaring fact, we believe a judge will see that the county commissioner erred in approving the previously denied CUPs. We also believe the judge will remand the entire project back to the Director of the P&Z Commission.

You can download the entire 64 page “S Bar Ranch Petition for Judicial Review” document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

Please help us stop the Cat Creek Energy project from moving forward. You should contact your elected officials. Begin with contacting County Commissioners Bud Corbus, Wes Wootan and Al Hofer and tell them you are opposed to this ill-conceived mega-energy project.

You can use the county website “Contact Form” at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/

or

See https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/

 

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National Forest Service Concerns Regarding the Cat Creek Energy Project

This “Bull Trout Country” sign is located just 5 miles west of the proposed Cat Creek Energy project lands.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and The National Forest Service commented about the concerns they have about the Generation Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project, P-14655 portion of the Cat Creek Energy project back in October 2015. Those concerns have yet to be addressed as of late-March 2019.

A letter dated October 25, 2015, from Kimberly D. Bose from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) highlights their concerns that Cat Creek Energy needs to act in a timely manner and in good faith before they will issue a temporary permit to begin some very critical studies within the Elmore County backcountry. Their main area of concern is the South Fork of the Boise River basin and the Little Camas Prairie located about 18 miles northeast of Mountain Home, Idaho.

Reference: Page 4 and 5 of “FERC-COMMENTS of U.S. Forest Service on Cat Creek Energy Generation Pumped Storage“ document. Please feel free to download the 25 Oct 2015 letter by clicking HERE FERC-COMMENTS of U.S. Forest Service on Cat Creek Energy Generation Pumped Storage … or https://catcreek-energy.com/download/964/

 

Here is Just a Part of the National Forest Service / FERC Concerns

Fisheries Resources

The Anderson Ranch Reservoir fisheries resource consists of rainbow trout, bull trout, whitefish, chinook salmon, kokanee salmon and smallmouth bass. South Fork Boise River below Anderson Ranch Reservoir is a Blue Ribbon fishery consisting of rainbow trout, bull trout, mountain whitefish, and sculpin.

  • Threatened, Endangered and Sensitive Species (TES) and critical habitat
    Endangered Species Act

  • Bull trout are listed as a threatened species (63 FR 31647 31674) under the
    Endangered Species Act.

  • Anderson Ranch Reservoir up to full pool is designated critical habitat (75 FR
    63898 64070) under the Endangered Species Act.

  • South Fork Boise River below Anderson Ranch Reservoir is designated critical habitat (75 FR 63898 64070) under the Endangered Species Act.


Concerns

  • Entrainment – bull trout and other species could be entrained when pumping
    water up to the holding basin.

  • Temperature – Increase in water temperature to Anderson Ranch Reservoir or the South Fork Boise River depending on the alternative considered and where water is released. The newly constructed dam would be a shallow reservoir and water temperatures would increase rapidly through solar radiation during hot summer months. An increase in water temperature could impact bull trout and could have effects on other fish resources within the reservoir.

  • Sediment – Increase in sediment from construction, maintenance and operation of hydroelectric facilities and associated power lines.

  • Supersaturation –  Supersaturation occurs when air becomes trapped in water
    spilled over a dam as it hits the pool below. If too much nitrogen is absorbed in the bloodstream of fish, air bubbles form and create the equivalent of what dives call “the bends” and fish die.

Please help us stop the Cat Creek Energy project from moving forward. Contact County Commissioners Bud Corbus, Wes Wootan and Al Hofer and tell them you are opposed to this ill-conceived mega-energy project.

You can use the county website “Contact Form” at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/
or
See https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/

 

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Elmore County let Cat Creek Submit a new Master Site Plan in Nov. 2016?

Why would the County Commissions allow Cat Creek Energy to submit a new master site plan for the 3,730 acre mega-energy project in Elmore County’s backcountry without proper public notice?

Submitting a new master site plan is not permissible unless it is properly and legally “noticed.” That includes published legal notices in the local newspaper and the notifying residents that own property within one mile of the project area. The S Bar Ranch and other ranches would be within one mile of some of those huge 500-foot tall wind turbines if the county allows them to be built.

Those proposed wind turbines would also be located in a known and documented elk, deer and pronghorn migration corridor.

Reference: Pages 10 and 11 of the Petition for Judicial Review document at https://catcreek-energy.com/download/928/

Snippets from the document

On August 26, 2016, the Developer submitted an appeal from the P&Z Order to the Board of County Commissioners of Elmore County (the “Board”) and Supplement Appeal on October 25, 2016. The Board heard the matter in public hearings on November 16, 2016 and 17, 2016, and December 16, 2016

At the hearing on November 16, 2016, the Developer presented evidence that had not previously been presented, which materially changed the applications for the CUPs, including a new master site plan. Although Petitioner was included in the mailing for the Notice of Public Hearing on November 16, this new evidence was not properly noticed as part of the hearing and Petitioner did not have a proper opportunity to respond to this new evidence.

For example, in violation of I.C. § 676512(b), the Notice of Appeal Hearing for the public hearings on November 16 and 17, 2016, contains no reference to the construction of wind turbines that will be up to 500’ tall and be located within one mile of Petitioner’s property.

As a consequence, Petitioner was not alerted to the fact the Ranch would be adversely affected by the construction of wind towers within one mile of the Ranch and the adjoining area.

During the November 16, 2016 appeal hearing, the Commissioners discussed the issue of noise from the wind mills with Cat Creek representative, James Carkulis.
question, Mr. Carkulis stated: “Noise from equipment. Yes, undoubtedly. Something moves there is going to be noise. The fact of the matter is though that where the wind turbines is [sp] located, there are no residences around. It is almost a moot point. It is just not going to be a concern.

Please help us stop the Cat Creek Energy project from moving forward. Contact County Commissioners Bud Corbus, Wes Wootan and Al Hofer and tell them you are opposed to this ill-conceived mega-energy project.

You can use the county website “Contact Form” at https://elmorecounty.org/contact/

or

See https://catcreek-energy.com/mailing-addresses-for-cat-creek-energy-issues/

 

 

 

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