Camas Prairie, Elmore County, Idaho

All posts by Tim Bondy

Why is Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County Amending the Development Agreement

A 100,000 acre-foot reservoir that is interconnected with Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

The amendment hearing on August 24, 2018, regarding a Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County, will strictly deal with the 2.2 Water Storage and Delivery section. Below you will find the current 2.2 agreement section and the proposed amendment to that section.

You can also download the full PDF document by clicking here Draft Amendment One to Development Agreement - EC draft 8-2-18 or a direct URL download at

Current 2.2 Agreement

2.2. Water Storage and Delivery. Given the complexities of water diversion and delivery related to the Project, and in an effort to move the Project forward without further delay, the County and Developer have agreed to defer the negotiation and execution of all Water Diversion and Delivery Agreements to a later date, to be heard after notice and public hearing, but which shall be done prior to December 31, 2018 or the CUP related to water shall lapse.

NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the promises, covenants, and provisions set forth herein, the Parties agree as follows:

Proposed 2.2 Amendment

The Parties hereby agree to replace Section 2.2 of the Development Agreement with the following:

2.2 Water Diversion and Delivery.

(a) The Developer shall divert and deliver water at a rate of up to 200 cubic feet per second (cfs) to the County under its water right, in priority, on a continuous flow basis, from the South Fork Boise River to Little Camas Reservoir by use of Developer’s infrastructure, as long as (1) the water can be accepted into Little Camas Reservoir, as determined by the Mountain Home Irrigation District, in its sole discretion; and (2) the water diversion and delivery does not prevent the Developer from performing its ordinary water operations, which term is defined as generating electricity via hydro-power or performing ordinary maintenance of its hydro-power infrastructure  and (3) Cat Creek Reservoir stored water is at least 20,000 acre feet.  Developer’s duty to divert and deliver water to the County shall be suspended during any emergency conditions that may exist outside of the Developer’s control.  The Developer agrees to use commercially reasonable efforts not to schedule maintenance work during the anticipated water diversion and delivery time periods for the County.

(b)  For those years when the County elects to take water delivery under Section 2.2 (a) above, charges for water diversion and delivery shall be billed to the County based on the following:  (1) the Developer’s actual cost of electricity for pumping the quantity of water diverted and delivered to the County under its water right; plus (2) charges resulting from  multiplication of the Developer’s Operation and Maintenance Costs, as hereafter defined, in dollars, times a ratio with the numerator being the actual volume of water diverted and delivered to the County under its water right, and the denominator being the total volume of water pumped from or discharged to Anderson Ranch Reservoir by Developer during the preceding twelve (12) month period ending on the last day in which the County elects to take water delivery.  “Operating and Maintenance Costs” shall be the routine and ordinary operating and maintenance costs for maintaining the pumping, diversion and delivery systems for water obtained from Anderson Ranch Reservoir for hydro electrical generating, and pumping, diversion and delivery of water to the County, by the Developer.  Operating and Maintenance Costs shall not include: (i) any charges for the actual cost of electricity for water pumping, diversion or delivery; (ii) any cost for the construction of the pumping, diversion or delivery systems for the hydro electrical generating or the pumping, diversion or delivery systems to provide water to the County, or any other costs of construction by Developer or otherwise; and (iii) any cost for the replacement of any portion of said pumping, diversion or delivery systems. Billing invoices from the Developer shall specify the total amount of water pumped, diverted and discharged to the Anderson Ranch Reservoir by the Developer and the total amount of water diverted and delivered into Little Camas Reservoir for the benefit of the County as well as the actual Operating and Maintenance Costs for the twelve (12) month period described above in which the County takes water delivery.  The Developer shall invoice the County within ninety (90) days from the end of water delivery to the County for that water delivery period and provide copies of its electricity cost, operation and maintenance costs, and its water diversion records to the County with the annual invoicing. Payment by the County shall be due and payable thirty (30) days after receipt of the annual invoicing.

(c)  The Developer consents to use of its diversion point for diversion of water under the County’s water right.

(d) The County will inform the Developer, or its designated agent, no less than twenty-four (24) hours prior to any County request for diversion and delivery of water under its water right.  Provided, however, the County shall be under no obligation to request diversion or delivery of any water, or accept any water, and any County request for water diversion or delivery shall be in the County’s sole discretion.

(e)  The Developer shall withdraw its pending protest at the Idaho Department of Water Resources against the County’s application for water permit no. 63-34348 within 24 hours of execution of this Amendment. The County agrees that it will not protest Developer’s water right application No. 63-34403 filed with the Idaho Department of Water Resources.

(f)  The Developer, the Landowners, the County, and their agents, consultants, and employees shall act in good faith regarding the County and Developer’s pursuit of a water permit and license under their respective applications, pending before the Idaho Department of Water Resources, and shall also act in good faith regarding the County and Developer’s relationship with the Mountain Home Irrigation District.

(g)       Notwithstanding anything in the Development Agreement to the contrary, the County’s obligations to pay for electricity for pumping and the County’s share of operating and maintenance expenses under Section 2.2(b) of the Amendment in connection with the diversion and delivery of water by the Developer to the County under Section 2.2(a), shall be subject to and dependent upon the appropriations being made in the fiscal year for the diversion and delivery of water by the Elmore County Board of Commissioners for such purpose.



Development Agreements – The State of Idaho Says …

With a hearing regarding an amendment to Cat Creek Energy Development Agreement scheduled for August 24 at 2:30 p.m at the Elmore County Courthouse, we thought you might like to know what these types of agreements are all about.

This is what Idaho says about development agreements:


67-6511A.  DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENTS. Each governing board may, by ordinance adopted or amended in accordance with the notice and hearing provisions provided under section 67-6509, Idaho Code, require or permit as a condition of rezoning that an owner or developer make a written commitment concerning the use or development of the subject parcel.

The governing board shall adopt ordinance provisions governing the creation, form, recording, modification, enforcement and termination of conditional commitments.

Such commitments shall be recorded in the office of the county recorder and shall take effect upon the adoption of the amendment to the zoning ordinance.

Unless modified or terminated by the governing board after a public hearing, a commitment is binding on the owner of the parcel, each subsequent owner, and each other person acquiring an interest in the parcel. A commitment is binding on the owner of the parcel even if it is unrecorded; however, an unrecorded commitment is binding on a subsequent owner or other person acquiring an interest in the parcel only if that subsequent owner or other person has actual notice of the commitment.

A commitment may be modified only by the permission of the governing board after complying with the notice and hearing provisions of section 67-6509, Idaho Code.

A commitment may be terminated, and the zoning designation upon which the use is based reversed, upon the failure of the requirements in the commitment after a reasonable time as determined by the governing board or upon the failure of the owner; each subsequent owner or each other person acquiring an interest in the parcel to comply with the conditions in the commitment and after complying with the notice and hearing provisions of section 67-6509, Idaho Code.

By permitting or requiring commitments by ordinance the governing board does not obligate itself to recommend or adopt the proposed zoning ordinance. A written commitment shall be deemed written consent to rezone upon the failure of conditions imposed by the commitment in accordance with the provisions of this section.


Why Fight to Stop the Cat Creek Energy Project – The Video

Link to the video

Why are the people of Elmore County fighting so hard to stop the construction of the Cat Creek Energy project on Camas Prairie? The scenic value, quiet recreation, the wildlife, our Anderson Ranch fisheries and preserving Idaho’s traditional heritage are just some of the reasons.

Chris Stephens, the owner of the S Bar Ranch, might have captured the true essence for why this massive energy project should be shut down in the linked video.

Here are some quotes from that video

  • With such diversity between the lowlands, the water, dark timber, the aspens, the sage, I think it’s the perfect area.” ~ Chris Stephens
  • It’s really just a piece of heaven [the Camas Prairie]” ~ Allen Thompson, local rancher and prairie resident.
  • Just the construction alone will change the ecosystem up here. It going to bring Medusas (Medusahead rye), cheatgrasses, invasive species that aren’t here normally, and they’re going to thrive in this environment.” ~ local resident Steve Alderman
  • The county and the developer had private negotiations to address the development agreement. Then they said, here is what we’re going to do, this is it. The public didn’t have a meaningful opportunity to address the issues in it. [The Development Agreement]” ~ Notable Boise, Idaho  Lawyer, Merlyn Clark
  • Steve Alderman said of the required conditional use permit postings on Camas Prairie before the hearing, “I saw one posting. My neighbor next door to me saw zero.” He went on to say, “the residents of Elmore County and Glenns Ferry in particular, had no idea of what was going on and I bet three-quarters of them still have no idea. It’s just been washed underneath the table … no one really knew about it.
  • I’ve committed all my resources into getting the message out. This isn’t a good project for this area. You’ll never be able to clean up this area once you build these huge [500 foot tall] towers.” ~ Chris Stephens

Help stop John Faulkner / Cat Creek Energy and his misplaced 24,000-acre development.

Going on the Record Against the Cat Creek Energy Project

Your opinion counts.

On July 26, 2018, the Elmore County Commissioners will be hosting a Cat Creek Energy Project Rehearing. This rehearing was created because the commissioners believe the citizens deserved to be heard again on a complex project with many complex moving parts and pieces that have spanned a three year period, countless changes, and much controversy.

We understand not everyone is able to attend the 6 p.m. rehearing at the War Memorial Hall at 515 E 2nd S St Mountain Home, ID 83647  But that doesn’t mean your facts, figures and opinions cannot be entered into the official record. It can. And the Elmore County Commissioners have the responsibility to read your documents and consider your opinions before making a decision on whether the Cat Creek Energy project should be allowed to move this year. We believe the project is flawed and bad for the residents of Elmore County.

How to go “On The Record” Without Attending the Rehearing

  1. Consider the 20 subject matter issues the commissioners have identified as problematic. The documents can be downloaded at this link … Subject Matter
  2. Carefully consider what this project will mean to you and the residents of Elmore County.
  3. Type up a document with all the facts, figures and opinions you feel are important.
  4. Don’t forget to include your name and address.
  5. Email, Fax or snail-mail your documents to:

Kacey Ramsauer
Administrative Assistant
Elmore County Land Use and Building Department
520 E 2nd S Street
Mountain Home ID 83647
PH:208-587-2142 ex 254

IMPORTANT: Make sure you ask   to enter your documents into the record and confirm this has been done by return email


Testify About the Cat Creek Energy Project Fish and Wildlife Habitat Destruction

Will the migration patterns be disrupted?

The 9th item that the Elmore County Commissioners identified as subject matter that the public can provide testimony about during the July 26, 2018, Cat Creek Energy Project Rehearing is “Communication with governmental agencies regarding fish and wildlife habitats and other matters.”

9. “Communication with governmental agencies regarding fish and wildlife habitats and other matters.” ~ Elmore County Commissioners

Hunting & Outdoor Interests

Hunting and other outdoor interests in Elmore County may want to look into the mitigation plans Cat Creek Energy has in place to avoid greatly affecting big game migration routes and what the transfer of water between water basins could do. The new “private” 100,000 acre-foot reservoir will be interconnected to Anderson Ranch Reservoir and Little Camas Reservoir. Is blue-green algae a concern to you? Remember, the Central Health District issued a health advisory for Little Camas Reservoir in 2017 and the reservoir currently has a new health advisory in place for this toxic algae.

“Central District Health Department (CDHD) and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), have issued a health advisory for Little Camas Reservoir in Elmore County, due to the presence of blue-green algae. The reservoir is located northeast of Mountain Home off of Highway 20. People are urged to avoid recreating in or near the water.” Issued on June 23, 2018

The 50-story tall wind turbines will noticeably affect the viewshed but there are studies that suggest elk, deer, and pronghorns will all feel the effects of them. The 589 acres of security fenced solar farm land on Camas Prairie certainly won’t help allow the free-range of big game animals either.

Are you aware of any communication between Cat Creek Energy and the government agencies involved with the protection of Idaho’s wildlife and big game?

And Other Matters

When the Elmore County Commissions posted their 20 item guidance document as to what the public would be allowed to testify about during the July 26 rehearing, they seem to have incorporated a lot of unknowns. We already read what subject matter #9 says but let’s look at the last three words.

9. Communication with governmental agencies regarding fish and wildlife habitats and other matters.”

Not only is the allowable subject matter unclear, the supporting documents are difficult to access unless you can visit the County’s Land Use and Building Department during work hours. And then you’ll have to fill out a form to get copies of the document. I’m unsure what supporting documents would cover the “and other matters” but you’ll likely need to wade through 10,000 different documents to find out if they are applicable.

Please Attend the Rehearing and Consider Testifying Against the Project

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 26, 2018, the Elmore County Commissioner will hold a rehearing regarding the Cat Creek Energy project in War Memorial Hall at 515 East 2nd Street, Mountain Home, ID 83647. Local residents and concerned citizens are encouraged to offer up testimony and let Commissioners Wootan, Corbus and Hofer know you oppose a plan that has changed too many times and that will adversely affect every person in the area.

Map Link to Rehearing Location


Cat Creek Energy Project Rehearing Subject Matter #2

The Elmore County Commissioners have limited the subject matter that residents will be able to speak about during the July 26, 2018 rehearing regarding the Cat Creek Energy Project.

Issue #2, as identified by the commissioners, is a rather complex subject matter covering a document that is quite different than what most Elmore County residents remember when the county planning and zoning board denied the five Cat Creek Energy conditional use permits in 2016. That issue is “The site plan and project description.”

How is it Different or Why Should I Care?

Cat Creek Energy, LLC originally planned to build out their large-scale solar farm on the north side of Little Camas Reservoir.

The current plan is to build out a 590-acre solar farm on both sides of the Pine-Featherville Road near the intersection of Highway 20. This is the road residents and tourists use to get to our mountain resort communities and most of those who will attend future Mountain Home Music Festivals held on Camas Prairie.

Studies show combining a large scale solar farm surrounded by an eight-foot security fence with 31 wind turbines that are as tall as 50-story buildings will have a serious negative effect on attracting return visitors to the county. The Cat Creek Energy project will, in all likelihood, affect the struggling hotel, retail, and hospitality industry in Elmore County.

The official Cat Creek Energy, LLC project description still tells us the solar farm is “4.3 miles north up Wood Creek Road.” That isn’t even close to the current planned location on the Pine-Featherville Road nor the original plans to build the solar farm next to the RV Park next to Little Camas Reservoir.

How Big is the Proposed CCE Solar Farm

  • Almost 1 square mile in size
  • 589 acres
  • 171,000 solar panels
  • Comparison: New York City’s Central Park is 840 acres.

Please Attend the Rehearing. Please Testify Against the Project

At 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 26, 2018, the Elmore County Commissioner will hold a rehearing regarding the Cat Creek Energy project in War Memorial Hall at 515 East 2nd Street, Mountain Home, ID 83647. Local residents and concerned citizens are encouraged to offer up testimony and let Commissioners Wootan, Corbus and Hofer know you oppose a plan that has changed too many times and that will adversely affect every person in the area.

Map Link to Rehearing Location:

Is Blue-Green Algae Contamination Built Into The Cat Creek Energy Project

During the summer of 2017, Little Camas Reservoir and the two downstream reservoirs were contaminated by blue-green algae according to state agencies. Little Camas Reservoir is located just 1.5 miles and 30 feet elevation from a planned new reservoir just above Anderson Ranch Reservoir, a recreational mecca for many residents of southwestern Idaho.

That new reservoir is part of a large-scale alternative energy project that could be built in southwestern Idaho’s Elmore County unless the county commissioner can be convinced the project is coming with more problems than solutions. We know the Elmore County Commissioners number one concern is acquiring a new source of domestic drinking water for the county residents. Cat Creek Energy, LLC wants to build a large reservoir above Anderson Ranch Reservoir and have indicated Elmore County could buy some of the water if certain condition are met. That new Cat Creek Energy Reservoir will be connected by a penstock, or a number of pipes drilled down through the sheer rock face and into Anderson.

Knowing that Little Camas Reservoir was tested and found to have toxic blue-green algae in it, do we really want to open that type of water transfer and contamination to Anderson Ranch Reservoir? Fishers, boaters, swimmers, and campers surely do not want to see blue-green algae in their favorite lake.

The Cat Creek Energy. LLC Project see

The Elmore County Commissioners are holding a public Rehearing on 20 different aspects and issues regarding the Cat Creek Energy Project at 6 p.m. on July 26, 2018. If you believe this project could result in more problems than benefits for the residents, please consider testifying and stating your opposition to the project. We believe the blue-green algae problem was never considered and it could easily cross-contaminate Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

From last summer’s advisory:
Samples taken at the Little Camas Reservoir indicate bacteria counts that could make people and animals
sick, so everyone should heed these precautions and avoid contact with the water.”

If you value the outdoor recreation in and around this beautiful mountain lake, please attend the meeting in the War Memorial Hall (American Legion Post 26 Building) located at 515 E 2nd S St Mountain Home, ID 83647.