Camas Prairie, Elmore County, Idaho

Tag Archives: Tourism

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/

 

Thanks.

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Will Highway 20 Become the Next Wind Turbine Corridor?

Is this the future of Highway 20? We hope not.

The segment of Highway 20 that Roger Brooks, an international tourism expert called “one of the best drives in Idaho” could easily become the next wind turbine corridor in the state.

That segment of highway Rogers Brooks was referring to, runs from just north of Mountain Home to Camas Prairie and into our mountain communities of Pine and Featherville.

Cat Creek Energy already has plans to put up forty, 500+ foot tall wind turbines along Cat Creek Summit and partially down the Pine-Featherville Road. We also know that Cat Creek is having troubles getting federal approval for the Pumped Storage Hydroelectric project on the bluffs above and interconnected with Anderson Ranch Reservoir. The developers have stated many times in the past that all three portions of their mega-energy project need to be approved to make it financially viable. If Cat Creek cannot get state or federal approval for the hydroelectric portion, they will likely have to make up for the megawatt shortage by putting up additional wind turbines along Highway 20.

Wind Power Friendly California Rebels Against New Turbines

According to an article on the Daily Wire website (https://www.dailywire.com/news/44146/b-b-climate-change-california-county-kills-plans-paul-bois), the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted to ban the construction of large solar and wind farms on more than 1 million acres of private land.

Local residents say that solar and wind farms destroy areas like Dagget, Joshua Tree and Lucerne Valley by turning the landscape into eyesores. Sara Fairchild, a resident of Pioneertown, has been working to have California Highway 247 turned into a designated state scenic highway to boost the local economy; she says that would all fall apart in the face of a mega solar farm.”

The local San Bernardino government listened to residents when they asked for a moratorium on new wind and solar farms in the rural parts of the county. Basically, the people said why grow wind and solar farms when we can grow a more profitable tourism industry that won’t destroy the scenery.

What they actually said was basically the same thing opponents to the Cat Creek Energy project are saying.

These vast open areas are precious for their natural, historical and recreational qualities. But they are fragile, and no amount of mitigation can counter the damage that industrial-scale renewable energy projects would cause,” Fairchild told the supervisors. “Once destroyed, these landscapes can never be brought back.”

The big difference between the California mega-energy project locations and the planned Cat Creek Energy location is our Elmore County, Idaho location contains verified wildlife migration corridors, the “threatened” bull trout and no need for the energy Cat Creek says they want to generate.

Spread the Word / Tell the Elected Official We Don’t Want CCE

The Elmore County Commissioners tentatively approved the Cat Creek Energy project even after their own planning and zoning commission said “no way.”

If you are opposed to the Cat Creek Energy project, take action today.

Contact Elmore County Commissioners Corbus, Wootan and Hofer at:

https://elmorecounty.org/contact/

or

  • Bud Corbus – Phone: (208) 587-2129 ext. 505 Phone: (208)599-1294
  • Wes Wootan – Phone: (208) 587-2129 ext. 505 Phone: (208)599-3131
  • Al Hofer – Phone: (208)587-2129 ext. 505 Phone: (208) 599-1620

and/or

Mail Address:

BOCC
150 South 4th East
Mountain Home, ID 83647

 

In addition, you might consider sharing this post with friends, family, and co-workers.

 

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Are Hunters Opposed to the Cat Creek Energy Project?

The Cat Creek area provides habitat for an assortment of native wildlife. The project area lies within a major migration corridor for mule deer, elk, and pronghorn moving from high elevation summer habitats to low elevation winter range and back. While the exact pathways and magnitude of the migration has not been quantified, several thousand animals likely use this corridor on an annual basis. Data from elk and mule deer radio-marked during winter in 2015 and 2016 confirmed, considerable seasonal movements through the project area. Energy development has the potential to disrupt these movements.~ The Feb. 1, 2016, Idaho Fish & Game response to the Cat Creek Energy project

Considering the Cat Creek Energy project will consist of wind, solar and hydroelectric “Energy Development,” and that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IF&G) said the project could disrupt elk and deer migration, hunters and all who enjoy the Elmore County backcountry should be opposed to it.

 

Elk and Deer Herds are Back

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game just releases their 2018 big game harvest report. Things have recently been looking good for elk and deer hunters with harvest numbers remaining above or near 2017 numbers.

Hunters took more mule deer and fewer white-tailed deer in 2018 compared to 2017, while the elk harvest was similar between the two years — dropping by less than 2 percent from 2017 to 2018.

The 2018 elk harvest was about 15.4 percent above the 10-year average. White-tailed deer harvest dipped in 2018 compared to 2017, but gains in the mule deer harvest – largely from spike and two-point bucks – brought the overall deer harvest for 2018 above that of 2017.

 

Migration Corridor

The planned Cat Creek Energy project would consist of a 590 acre solar plant and a 1,140 acre wind farm in the Cat Creek Summit area, plus a 2,000 acre reservoir on Little Camas Prairie. IF&G said “the project area lies within a major migration corridor for mule deer, elk, and pronghorn moving from high elevation summer habitats to low elevation winter range and back. While the exact pathways and magnitude of the migration has not been quantified, several thousand animals likely use this corridor on an annual basis.”

Will the migration patterns be disrupted?

 

So, Yes … hunters and backcountry enthusiast should research how this mega-energy project will adversely affect hunting and wildlife in GMU’s 43, 44 and 45 over the lifetime of this ill-conceived project.

Many hunters and local residents have already voiced their concerns and publicly stated their opposition to the Cat Creek Energy project.

How do you stand on this issue?

 

References

 

Please help us get the word out about how bad this project will be for the residents of Elmore County. There are much better locations to site this project where it won’t ruin the viewshed and our hunting heritage.

Share this post with your friends, family, and co-workers.

 

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Comment on Cat Creek Energy’s Hydro Project by March 20, 2019

Take Action

Low water conditions on Anderson Ranch Reservoir on Aug. 17, 2018.

The Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) is actively soliciting your comments regarding Cat Creek Energy’s “Pump Storage Hydroelectric Generating Facility.” The S Bar Ranch, Chris Stephens and many locals who oppose the entire project hope you will provide feedback to our federal government, too.

The goal is to protect Anderson Ranch Reservoir for the people of Elmore County.

How to File a Comment with the FERC

Go To: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/11/27/2018-25813/cat-creek-energy-llc-notice-of-successive-preliminary-permit-application-accepted-for-filing-and

Please file comments, motions to intervene, notices of intent, and competing applications using the Commission’s eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp

Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp.

FYI: You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments.

Below, you will find some of the issues we believe the federal government should seriously consider before allowing Cat Creek Energy to build a hydroelectric generating facility on the shores of Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

The more comments the feds receive, the harder they will look at this project.

What is Pump Storage Hydroelectric?

What is this “ Pump Storage Hydroelectric Generating Facility” that Cat Creek Energy (CCE) is trying to build on Little Camas Prairie? In theory, it goes something like this …

  • CCE digs out the shell of a reservoir on the bluffs above Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
  • CCE drills six 15 foot diameter tunnels from that new shell of a reservoir down to Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
  • CCE siphons 100,000 acre/feet of water up those bluffs to fill that new reservoir.
  • Once that phase of the project is completed …
  • CCE will release a large amount of water from their reservoir back into Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
  • That water will be run through turbines located at or near the south shore of Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
  • CCE collects that hydroelectric power and sells it to consumers in Washington, Oregon and California via a maze of transmission lines they plan to construct.

The Problems Associated With the CCE Pump Storage HydroElectric

  1. Water Quality: All local reservoirs have had toxic blue-green algae health warnings issued on them during 2017 and 2018 except Anderson Ranch Reservoir.
    The proposed Cat Creek Reservoir will likely experience a blue-green algae bloom soon after it gets filled. And then, Cat Creek will dump that toxic soup into Anderson Reservoir.
    Many people fish, boat and swim in this water. We think it should be kept clean of any blue-green algae source.
  2. Endangered Species: The endangered Bull Trout thrives in Anderson Ranch Reservoir because of the near constant water temperatures at depth. Cat Creek Energy will dump 1000s of gallons of warm and stagnant water back into Anderson, raising the local water temperature. Studies have suggested the Bull Trout will be adversely affected by this warming.
  3. Water level issues in Anderson: The physical act of removing water from Anderson Ranch Reservoir will affect the lake levels. However, massive summertime evaporation and domestic/agricultural use of the water will surely lower the warm season levels of their reservoir. CCE will then need to siphon additional water out of Anderson during the summer to prevent their reservoir from running dry just when we need that water in Anderson the most. Studies show our kokanee salmon fishery in Anderson will be mightily threatened by the CCE hydroelectric facility.
  4. Electrical Transmission Lines: CCE plans to run many high-tension electrical transmission lines between their different projects. Those lines will likely run from the bluffs above Anderson Reservoir and along the Highway 20 corridor. Many studies show that those massive towers greatly affect tourism and the viewshed.

Please consider giving your feedback to our government about the ill-conceived Cat Creek Energy Project.

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Coming: Cat Creek Energy News in Abundance

Even the Idaho Department of Transportation knows there is a critical deer and elk migration corridor running right through the middle of the planned Cat Creek Energy project landscape.

Photo taken on Jan. 20, 2019 and geotagged at https://goo.gl/maps/FS2sEdcDudM2

In the past few months, a lot of news and information has surfaced about the ill-advised Cat Creek Energy project that is scheduled to be built just 20 miles northeast of Mountain Home, Idaho.

What Issues?

  • There are water issues to discuss.
  • There are wildlife issues to discuss.
  • There are political issues to discuss.
  • There are State of Idaho issues to discuss.
  • There are federal regulations and guidance to discuss.
  • There are Elmore County Commissioner issues to discuss.

In the coming days and weeks, these issues will be brought to light on this website and our S Bar Ranch Facebook Page.

Our hopes are that you will read what we have to say and then do your own research. We’re very confident you will find that the 5,750 acre Cat Creek Energy project will be a boondoggle for the residents of Elmore County and our emerging tourism industry.

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EVENT: Cat Creek Energy Public Hearing for Amending the Development Agreement with Elmore County

 

What It’s About?

Can you attend the public hearing at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, December 14, 2018, at the Elmore County Courthouse regarding the Development Agreement between Cat Creek Energy and “the people”?

The Elmore County Commissioners will accept public testimony regarding the possibility of giving Cat Creek Energy full control of a new domestic water source from the South Fork of the Boise River and Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

We don’t believe handing a Gooding County-based corporation the authority, responsibility, and control over Elmore County’s domestic drinking water is a good idea.

Documentation Regarding This Public Hearing

Currently, there are three documents directly related to this December 14, 201,8 public hearing. You can and should download/read the following.

#1. The Public Hearing Notice: “Dec 14, 2018, Public Hearing Notice – Cat Creek Energy Development Agreement” that can be viewed or downloaded HERE Dec 14, 2018 Public Hearing Notice - Cat Creek Energy Development Agreement or at the direct link found at http://catcreek-energy.com/download/731/

#2. Option #1 (blue document) First Amendment to Development Agreement – 14 Dec 2018 Hearing: It can be viewed or downloaded HERE OPTION #1-First Amendment to Development Agreement - For the Dec. 14, 2018 Hearing or at the direct link found at http://catcreek-energy.com/download/755/

#3. Option #2 (orange document) First Amendment to Development Agreement – 14 Dec 2018 Hearing can be viewed or downloaded HERE OPTION #2-First Amendment to Development Agreement - For the Dec. 14, 2018 Hearing or at the direct link found at http://catcreek-energy.com/download/758/

 

When and Where

1:30 p.m. On Friday, December 14, 2018, at the Elmore County Courthouse in Mountain Home, Idaho.

Address: 150 South 4 East, Mountain Home, ID 83647

Map Link: https://goo.gl/maps/W1vikDroruw

 

Take Action

We believe it is important the residents of Elmore County and anyone who loves our backcountry for it’s abundant recreational opportunities to tell the county commissioners you are opposed to the entire Cat Creek Energy project and you oppose the idea of allowing this corporation to control our future domestic water delivery system.

If you cannot attend this public hearing please call the two Elmore County Commissioners who will make the decision whether to allow the Cat Creek Energy project to move forward.

Commissioner Wes Wootan (208)599-3131

Commissioner Bud Corbus: (208) 599-1294

FYI: Commissioner Hofer has been recused from any decision making authority on the Cat Creek Energy project.

Anyone who wishes to testify, but is unable to attend the 1:30 p.m., Friday, December 14, 2018, hearing, may submit written testimony prior to the hearing by sending it to the:

Elmore County Land Use and Building Department
520 East 2nd South Street
Mountain Home, Idaho, 83647

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Why Did Cat Creek Energy Decide to Unlink the Project Permits?

All five conditional use permits need to be approved to make the Cat Creek Energy project financially viable.” – Creek Creek Energy Spokesman in 2016

Throughout the permitting process, almost every Cat Creek Energy spokesman testified that all five parts of the project needed to be approved or they couldn’t move forward. The permitting process started in 2015 and ended in 2018.

What We Heard:

They’ll never get federal approval for the power lines in sage grouse territory or water rights for their proposed Cat Creek Reservoir.” – Many people who attended the 2016 and 2017 CUP approval hearings.

 

In 2018, after the Elmore County Commissioners surprisingly approved the five conditional use permits, Cat Creek Energy decided the project really might be financially viable with only a portion (huge wind farm or 590-acre solar plant) getting built out. It’s almost like Cat Creek Energy intended to pull the wool over our eyes while getting the county to approve their mega energy project.

 

Water Rights Problem

Cat Creek Energy has run into significant headwinds in obtaining water rights for their proposed reservoir on Little Camas Prairie. About 20 different private and governmental entities filed separate objections and protests to Cat Creek Energy’s water right permit application they filed with the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR). Elmore County “was” one of those entities that objected to Cat Creek getting their hands on Anderson Ranch Reservoir water.

It’s Unacceptable

We find it suspicious that Cat Creek Energy LLC suddenly found financial viability in a piecemeal approach to their mega-energy complex after the commissioners approved the project and years of saying the CUPs needed to be linked.

We find it wholly unacceptable that Elmore County would allow the project to move forward knowing that the Gooding County-based corporation likely knew they’d never get federal approval for the “pump storage hydro” portion of the project and likely will never get the water rights from Anderson Ranch Reservoir either.

We expect the Elmore County Commissioners to postpone any further approvals of the Cat Creek Energy project until the conditional use permits are once again linked together.

Why? Many residents believed the project would never be able to move forward as a complete project and stopped testifying and paying attention. We’re still paying attention, however.

Reference: Elmore County, Idaho Conditional Use Permits for the Cat Creek Energy Project.

  • CUP-2015-03 / Transmission Lines
  • CUP-2015-04 / Pump Storage Hydro- Electrical Generating Facility
  • CUP-2015-05 / Solar – Electrical Generating Facility)
  • CUP-2015-06 / Wind – Electrical Generating Facility)
  • CUP-2015-07 / Electrical Substation

 

Take Action: Write a letter to the Elmore County Commissioners.

  • Tell them the Cat Creek Energy Project is bad for Elmore County’s big game herds.
  • Tell them Elmore County needs to control our own destiny when it comes to “domestic water issues.”
  • Tell them to relink all five Conditional Use Permits like was originally agreed upon.
  • Tell them our tourism industry will never get established with an industrialized energy complex in our wild and scenic backcountry.

 

Address your letter to:

Elmore County Land Use and Building Department
ATTN: Cat Creek Energy Project
520 East 2nd South Street
Mountain Home, Idaho, 83647

 

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