Camas Prairie, Elmore County, Idaho

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S Bar Ranch Letter to Congressman Mike Simpson

This is what the road leading to the Cat Creek Summit Scenic Overlook would look like with wind turbines.

Chris Stephens, owner of the S Bar Ranch located on the western portion of Camas Prairie wrote to Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson and the rest of the Idaho Congressional Delegation explaining why the proposed Cat Creek Energy project is incompatible with the local environment and the wishes of many local residents and ranchers.

Please download and review this letter at …  S Bar Ranch Letter to Idaho's Congressman Mike Simpson

Here is a copy of the letter the S Bar Ranch mailed to Congressman Raul Labrador …  S Bar Ranch Letter to Idaho's Congressman Raul Labrador

To view the letter to Senator Crapo please click here … S Bar Ranch Letter to Idaho's Senator Mike Crapo

Here is a snippet from that letter:
I believe that this Project has not been fully vetted by the Federal and State agencies,
including but not limited to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the National
Environmental Protection Agency, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Idaho Public
Utility Commission, and the State of Idaho Department of Water Resources, who oversee our
Federal government’s and State’s critical wildlife, fish habitat, and environment. It is my
opinion, and the opinion of many other people that this Project should not proceed until all
parties fully understand what affect this Project will have on our land and the citizens of Elmore

We hope you will take the time to research why this mega-project, slated to be built in Elmore County, is not compatible with Idaho’s time-honored tradition of being good stewards of our land.  Once you do the research you may wish to write to your Idaho Congressional Delegation to ask them for help in delaying this project until all issues have been explained and satisfactorily negotiated.

Idaho Congressional Delegation and Mailing Addresses:

Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District
Congressman Mike Simpson
2084 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: 202-225-5531

Idaho’s 1st Congressional District
Congressman Raul Labrador
1523 Longworth HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: 202- 225-6611

Idaho’s Freshman Senator
U.S. Senator James E. Risch
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-2752

Idaho’s Senior Senator
Senator Mike Crapo
239 Dirksen Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202- 224-6142


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S Bar Ranch Officially Protests Cat Creek Energy’s Water Application

We don’t want power lines, towers and buildings crowding out elk, deer and sage grouse on Little Camas Prairie.

Chris Stephens and the S Bar Ranch has officially submitted a protest against John Faulkner’s Cat Creek Energy, LLC water permit. This protest was submitted to the Idaho Department of Water Resources because we believe that creating a new 100,000 acre-foot reservoir on the bluffs above Anderson Ranch Reservoir is dangerous to downstream residents but also because there are too many unanswered questions about the entire reservoir project.

You can view/download the protest by clicking here …  S Bar Ranch Protest to Water Right Application

You can also use this document as an example to file your own protest with the Idaho Department of Water Resources. NOTICE: All water permit protests need to be submitted by Monday, September 24, 2018.

Contact us and we can help with the paperwork but you must act fast.

An additional link to download is here

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County Rules in Favor of S Bar Ranch on Development Agreement

On Friday, September 7, 2018, a group of concerned citizens attended the Elmore County Commissioners weekly meeting to hear our local government officials deliberate on two separate Cat Creek Energy project issues. This is what happened at the meeting.

Deliberation #1 – A Loss for the Residents of Elmore County

The first deliberations of the day dealt with a July 26, 2018 rehearing regarding 20 different amendment issues the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved in previous meetings during the past few years. The BOCC was concerned that the residents were not fully aware of some of the amendments and we, the people were owed an additional hearing.

After Chairmen Wes Wootan dispensed with some routine rules and guidelines for the deliberations, he and Commissioner Corbus ruled rather quickly that the county did everything properly with regards to those 20 amendment items. Earlier this year the third official, Commissioner Hofer recused himself from any decision-making responsibilities regarding the Cat Creek Energy project because he was engaged in the negotiation process with John Faulkner’s Cat Creek Energy, LLC legal team.

This Cat Creek Energy project is quite complex and even Chairmen Wootan required some help and guidance closing out the deliberations and announcing an official decision on the rehearing. Both Bud Grant, the county’s legal counsel and Shelley Essl, the assistant clerk of the county commissioners, spoke up to ensure Wootan didn’t overstep on this important announcement.

While we are disappointed in the BOCC’s decision in this matter, there are still some hurdles that Cat Creek Energy, LLC will have to overcome before they can break ground on this project.

Notice: For your records, the official BOCC agenda item for this meeting was titled “Deliberation of Cat Creek Energy Rehearing held on July 26, 2018.”


Deliberation #2 – A ‘Big Win’ for the Residents of Elmore County

The second and final deliberations scheduled for the day involved an amendment to a development agreement between the county and Cat Creek Energy. The initial public hearing on this matter was conducted on Aug. 24, 2018, and mainly dealt with the water storage and delivery from a new 100,000 acre-foot reservoir that John Faulkner wants to build on the bluff directly above Anderson Ranch Reservoir. Specifically, 723 feet above Anderson.

Cat Creek Energy has been using this proposed new Cat Creek Reservoir as a big “carrot on a stick” and holding it in front of the county commissioner’s eyes since November 2016. It certainly appeared to many local residents that Cat Creek Energy was not so subtly trying to grease the skids in an effort to ensure the BOCC would approve their entire mega-energy project.

It is also the opinion of many residents that during the hearings in late 2016, Cat Creek did intimate that they would provide the county with a whole lot of water from Anderson Ranch Reservoir and get it into the Mountain Home area at no cost.

The commissioner’s deliberations on this issue were more meaty and substantial than during Deliberation #1. It became clear from the very beginning that Commissioner Wootan was in favor of approving Cat Creek Energy’s proposed amendment to the development agreement.

When Commissioner Bud Corbus offered up his opinion, it was obvious he was frustrated and maybe a little hot under the collar. That frustration was directed at the seven members of the Cat Creek Energy team in attendance at this meeting.

During the deliberations, Commissioner Corbus sternly lectured the Cat Creek Energy team over the following issues:

1. Corbus said he doesn’t think Elmore County should be put in a position of taking a risk on the costs of the water delivery from the proposed Cat Creek Reservoir.

In 2016 Cat Creek Energy said they were taking on all financial risks for the project and they were not asking Elmore County to take any risk. Corbus said ‘that has changed now’.

2. Corbus said he was having a lot of trouble believing the Nov. 2016 Cat Creek Energy’s promise that they would do anything they could to help Elmore County when in fact Cat Creek Energy stood in the county’s way when they protested Elmore County’s water application.

During a Nov. 2016 meeting, a Cat Creek Energy spokesman said “if there was anything they could do to help the county in the future we want to.” Corbus retorted, “I’m looking at a protested Elmore County water application and I’m asking myself how Cat Creek Energy is helping us by protesting that water permit.”

3. Corbus appeared a little hot under the collar when remembering that Cat Creek Energy told the county that if they sign the agreement, Cat Creek Energy wouldn’t protest the county water rights application.

To me that’s similar to blackmail. You sign this (agreement) and we won’t protest the water,” Corbus said.

Who in the hell is going to be telling us “you do this or else.” That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s just absolutely not right”.”

4. Corbus said that a poster/flier created by Cat Creek Energy stated that transferring the water from The South Fork of the Boise River to the Mountain Home area wouldn’t be an issue but now there are issues … many issues.

And then there is a poster from those hearings. It says transferring the water from Cat Creek Reservoir to Little Camas and the to the Mountain Home area is not an issue. It doesn’t say on the poster anywhere that Elmore County is going to have to pay for it.

5. Corbus the went back to the fact that Cat Creek Energy official protested Elmore County’s water permit with the Idaho Department of Water Resources.

I read this Notice of Protest signed by John Faulkner and I read the reason why, and I was extremely disheartened. Again, who in the hell could be telling us [what to do] … who should deny the citizens of Elmore County water. I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think that’s fair and I really struggle with that.

In the end, Wootan restated his support for approving the first amendment to the development agreement. If the commissioners agreed to that amendment, the total cost of pumping water from the South Fork of the Boise River to the Mountain Home area would remain unknown and could easily skyrocket. Commissioner Corbus stated definitively he could not support the proposed amended.

The Development Agreement Amendment was not approved by Elmore County. That’s a win for the residents of the county.

In short, the vote was a one-one tie, meaning the proposed amendment was not approved during this September 7 meeting.

Moving Forward With the Development Agreement

It appears as if the signed and approved February 9, 2018 Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy and Elmore County (download a copy of that development agreement here) … CCE_Development Agreement (9-Feb-2018)-10673026_1. is still in effect. However, the water storage and delivery portion that wasn’t approved during this September 7, 2018 meeting includes a December 31, 2018 deadline. If the county and Cat Creek Energy cannot hammer out an acceptable water storage and delivery agreement by the deadline, the CUP related to water will lapse.

The county has no further requirements or actions to take in regards to the development agreement, according to Elmore County Attorney Buzz Grant. However, we suspect the Cat Creek Energy legal team will be busy in the coming weeks trying to find some common ground with Elmore County surrounding this complex water issue.

Notice: For your records, the official BOCC agenda item for this meeting was titled “Deliberation of Amendment to the Cat Creek Energy Development Agreement.”

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Protesting Cat Creek Energy’s Water Right Application

Cat Creek Energy has recently applied for a water right on the South Fork of the Boise River (Anderson Ranch Reservoir) and we believe the public needs to stop them from getting that permit until many critical environmental and wildlife issues can be publicly addressed.

The deadline to officially protest Cat Creek Energy’s permit is September 24, 2018, and we need your help.

Click here to download Cat Creek Energy’s original water right application … CCE Water Permit Application SFB-River Water Right

Link to the download can be found here:

The Situation as it Stands

Cat Creek Energy is moving forward with plans for building what could be a disaster for the residents of Elmore County, our big game herds, the birds of prey population, plus our fishery and water quality in Anderson Ranch Reservoir. Those plans involve building a 100,000 acre-foot reservoir on Little Camas Prairie, 23 miles to the northeast of Mountain Home, Idaho. This body of water will be interconnected to Anderson Ranch Reservoir and located on the adjacent bluffs just 723 feet above Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

Might you be able to throw a rock while standing on the shoreline of the planned Cat Creek Reservoir and hit Anderson Reservoir without much problem?

The area where John Faulkner wants to build out his mega-energy project is considered prime habitat for elk, mule deer, pronghorn, the near-endangered sage grouse plus the threatened fish we call the Bull Trout.

Some Possible Justifications to Protest the Water Right

  • Fact: Anderson Ranch Reservoir will be interconnected with huge water tubes (penstocks) to Cat Creek Reservoir. There are no guarantees John Faulkner will control the water quality in his reservoir as it sluices water back into Anderson. Anderson Ranch Reservoir is home to the threatened bull trout.
  • Fact: Critical water temperature levels could easily be exceeded as warm water from the planned Cat Creek Reservoir drains back into Anderson Ranch, according to state and federal agencies.
  • Fact: Little Camas Reservoir has had a toxic blue-green algae health advisory issued on that body of water since June 2018. The Little Camas Reservoir – Cat Creek Reservoir – Anderson Ranch Reservoirs will all be interconnected. Cross-contamination of the blue-green algae is quite possible.
  • Fact: The planned Cat Creek Reservoir and its the entire hydro/water project is in critical sage grouse territory, a major migration corridor for elk, mule deer, and pronghorn.
  • Fact: Because Cat Creek Energy will be drawing 100,000 acre-feet of water from Anderson Ranch Reservoir, the water levels will be affected for all who come to recreate on ‘Anderson’ and in turn will hurt our Pine and Featherville businesses and our tourism industry.

How To Protest – $25 IDWR Fee

As with any governmental action and procedure, it will require some of your valuable time and cost you some money. If you have the will and the money, please consider filing an official protest of this Cat Creek Energy water right.

If you do not wish to file the $25 protest, please consider sending us your legal name and official home address so we can append it to S Bar Ranch protest documentation that will be sent to the Idaho Department of Water Resources. We could also use your name, and just your name in posts on this website or on social media.

1. Fill out the required protest form found at

2. The following information should be included in your protest paperwork:

  • The basis of protest (including a statement of facts and law upon which the protest is based)
  • Application for Permit No. 63-34403
  • In the name of:
    Cat Creek Energy, LLC
    398 S 9th ST STE 240
    Boise, ID 83701
  • Important: A copy of your “Notice of Protest” must be sent to Cat Creek Energy, LLC at the above address.

Reference Material


Idaho Statue 42-221. Paragraph L. states the following:

For filing a protest or request to intervene in a protested matter [will cost] $25.00” (

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NEWS: County Commissioners Hold 2 Hearings on Aug. 24, 2018 – No Decisions


The Elmore County Commissioner held two hearings regarding the Cat Creek Energy project on August 24, 2018. The commissioners did not come to any decision about either of these very complex issues during this Friday afternoon meeting.

The First Hearing

The first hearing was the “Amendment to the Development Agreement Relative to Five Different Cat Creek Energy, LLC Conditional Use Permits (CUP).” This was the longer of the two hearings and the only individuals offering public testimony where the lawyers for the county, S Bar Ranch, and Cat Creek Energy.

Commissioners Wootan and Corbus dismissed, out of hand, the S Bar Ranch’s “Notice of Objections” claim. Both the county lawyer and the lawyer for the project said neither of the commissioners will personally benefit from Elmore County accepting water from the Cat Creek Energy hydro portion of the project.

We disagree with that opinion.

Cat Creek Energy indicated that all negotiations surrounding the development agreement were conducted with complete transparency. However, Commissioner Corbus did say the newly proposed agreement on precisely what the county would pay for water delivered to them is different than what most residents heard during the 2016 approval meetings. Corbus indicated he wasn’t happy with that turn of events.

In short, the county will pay Cat Creek Energy for the operations and maintenance costs of drawing water from Anderson Ranch Reservoir and pumping it into Little Camas Reservoir. Corbus said “operations and maintenance” cost is too broad of a description and could leave the county open to very high-cost water deliveries.

The Decision: As is the case with a public hearing like this, the commissioner deliberations and ultimately, a decision whether to approve the proposed amendment to the Development Agreement, will occur in two weeks or tentatively at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, September 7, 2018.

NOTE: It is highly unlikely that the commissioners will accept new public testimony on this issue. But, at the time, the commissioners did not state definitively that no further testimony would or could be accepted.

The Second Hearing – The Rehearing Deliberations

Deliberations and a decision on the Cat Creek Energy Rehearing stemming from the public hearing on July 26, 2018 was kicked down the road for two weeks. You can read about that issues by downloading the county documentation at

Commission Corbus indicated he wanted more time to read the large amount of “just dumped in his lap” information regarding the testimony from that July 26 public hearing.

We believe asking the residents for time to consider all testimony was a prudent move. The Cat Creek Energy team did not appear to appreciate this delay but Corbus did the correct thing … right?

The Decision: First things first … the commissioners will not accept any further public testimony on this issue. That was stated rather clearly at the hearing.

The commissioner’s deliberations and decision on this issue will occur at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, September 7, 2018, in the basement of the Elmore County Courthouse located at 150 South 4th East St, Mountain Home, ID 83647. Map Link:

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Breaking News – S Bar Ranch Filed a Notice of Objections

On August 22, 2018, the S Bar Ranch filed a Notice of Objections with Elmore County alleging the county has a significant and irreconcilable conflict of interest/bias in its dealing with the Cat Creek Energy project.

To read the entire 5-page filing, point your browser to or right here …  Aug. 22, 2018 - Notice of Objections

Snippet from Notice of Objections:

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that S Bar Ranch, LLC (“S Bar Ranch”) has objections for the hearing on August 24, 2018 (the “Hearing”) and the proposed actions of the Board of County Commissioners (the “Board”) with respect to the Cat Creek Energy, LLC Project—Conditional Use Permit CUP-2015-04 (the “hydro project”) and First Amendment to the Development Agreement that is the subject of the hearing.


The Board of Commissioners of Elmore County has a significant and irreconcilable conflict of interest/bias in this matter.

Under I.C. § 67-6506, a conflict of interest exists when a county grants a conditional use permit for the benefit of the county. The rule barring conflicts of interest in zoning matters is codified in I.C. § 67-6506:

A member or employee of a governing board, commission, or joint commission shall not participate in any proceeding or action when the member or employee or his employer, business partner, business associate, or any person related to him by affinity or consanguinity within the second degree has an economic interest in the procedure or action. Any actual or potential interest in any proceeding shall be disclosed at or before any meeting at which the action is being heard or considered. For purposes of this section the term “participation” means engaging in activities which constitute deliberations pursuant to the open meeting act. No member of a governing board or a planning and zoning commission with a conflict of interest shall participate in any aspect of the decision-making process concerning a matter involving the conflict of interest. A knowing violation of this section shall be a misdemeanor. I.C. § 67-6506 (emphasis added).

Idaho courts have interpreted the term “economic interest” broadly; any kind of direct or indirect pecuniary benefit qualifies. Martin v. Smith, No. 2008 WL 4727843 (Idaho Dist. Apr. 2, 2008)(order granting preliminary injunction). Idaho courts have also interpreted “participation”broadly, holding that it includes any action involved in the deliberation process. Manookian v.Blaine County, 735 P.2d 1008, 1012 (Idaho 1987) (“I.C. § 67-6506 prohibits a member…from participating even if he or she will not vote.”). A conflict of interest can also arise if the person participating in the proceeding is employed by an entity that is economically interested in the …

End of Snippet

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The Last Nine Dev. Agreement Issue You Probably Didn’t Know About

Oregon wildfire smoke hanging thick over Camas Prairie is only temporary. The Cat Creek Energy project is a permanent blight on Elmore County.

Cat Creek Energy, LLC, and Elmore County’s Development Agreement … the last nine issue you probably didn’t know about.

Over the past week, we have highlighted most of the issues our county commissioners have agreed to when it comes to building a sprawling power generating facility in the mountains and prairies of Elmore County. These last 9 issues run the gamut from permanent buildings to private microwave communications towers to concrete and rock crushing plants.

Download and read the whole 37-page development agreement here …  CCE_Development Agreement (9-Feb-2018)-10673026_1.

All these approved plans just mean more disturbances to the local environment and our coveted wildlife, fish and big game animals. And these were likely approved just so Commissioners Wootan, Corbus and Hofer can point to a project they will call “their legacy.”

Don’t let this Cat Creek Energy project become a dark smear on the long and honorable history of Elmore County. It’s not worth it for anyone other than a few elected individuals and the Faulkner family.

The Last 9 Issues

18) A cellular and/or microwave communication tower up to two hundred (200) feet in height may be placed on any of the Property on the CUP sites subject to any federal requirements and state permitting.

19) Transmission level electrical towers are engineered to accommodate the topography and electrical conductor size on any CUP site.

20) Temporary housing can be built on the PSH CUP Site to accommodate the construction cycle as provided in 6-8-206 with an approved Administrative Decision and an approved building permit.

21) One permanent Caretaker/Security dwelling unit can be constructed within the PSH or Substation CUP boundaries as provided in 6-8-89 with an approved building permit.

22) One duplex dwelling unit can be constructed within the PSH or Substation CUP boundaries as provided in 6-8-93 with a Conditional Use Permit and an approved building permit.

23) Temporary housing to accommodate construction personnel is allowed during the construction activity period under 6-8-206 and must be removed within thirty (30) days after commercial operations of the final power generator facility commences.

24) Rock crushing is allowed during the construction period as provided in 6-8-164 and an approved Administrative Decision for a temporary use.

25) Concrete batch plants are allowed during the construction period as provided in 6-8-164and an approved Administrative Decision for a temporary use.

26) For fire safety, on site equipment shall include a tender, a pumper, and all necessary equipment for fire suppression.


Be There To Oppose the Project

At 2:30 p.m. on August 24, 2018, the Elmore County Commissioners will hear from the corporate lawyers for Cat Creek Energy, LLC to amend certain aspects of the Development Agreement they signed a little over six months ago. If you are opposed to this project, please attend this public hearing or contact the commissions and let them know you don’t want this project to be built in our backyard.

Here is a link to more information about that meeting

Contact Information for the County Commissioner

Al Hofer

Chairman Wes Wooten

Bud Corbus

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