Camas Prairie, Elmore County, Idaho

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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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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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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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FERC Request Cat Creek Provide Additional Information by March 8, 2019

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has requested additional information from Cat Creek Energy, LLC regarding their planned Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project on Little Camas Prairie. Cat Creek Energy has until March 8, 2019, to answer the questions contained in the “Schedule A” document located at the bottom of this post.

The letter and Schedule A can also be directly downloaded here … http://catcreek-energy.com/download/874/


FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D. C. 20426
February 21, 2019

OFFICE OF ENERGY PROJECTS

 

Project No. 14655-001–Idaho
Cat Creek Energy Generation Facility
Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project
Cat Creek Energy, LLC

 

James Carkulis
Cat Creek Energy, LLC 398 S. 9th Street, Suite 240
Boise, ID 83702

Subject: Additional Information Request Dear Mr. Carkulis:

After reviewing your successive preliminary permit application filed on November 9, 2018, for the Cat Creek Energy Generation Facility Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project No. 14655-001 and the comments filed on the application, additional information is needed to continue processing your application. Please provide the information requested in Schedule A within 15 days from the date of this letter.

The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file the requested information using the Commission’s eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs- filing/efiling.asp. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at FERCOnlineSupport@ferc.gov, (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-14655-001.

If you have any questions concerning this letter, please call Karen Sughrue at (202) 502-8556.

 

Sincerely,

~ signed ~

For David Turner,
Chief Northwest Branch
Division of Hydropower Licensing

 


Enclosure:  Schedule A
Project No. 14655-001

 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

 

1. In section (iii) of Exhibit 2 of your application, you request a waiver of section 4.81(c)(2) of the Commission’s regulations, which requires the filing of a work plan for new dam construction. S Bar Ranch, LLC, in its motion to intervene and protest, objects to this waiver request.

Section 4.81(c)(3) of the Commission’s regulations allows the Commission to waive the requirements of paragraph (c)(2) upon a showing by the applicant that the field studies, tests, and other activities to be conducted under the permit would not adversely affect cultural resources or endangered species and would cause minor alterations or disturbances of lands and waters, and that any land altered or disturbed would be adequately restored. The federally listed bull trout and its critical habitat are within the proposed project boundary at the Anderson Ranch Reservoir. Neither your permit or the project record clearly describes if you intend to conduct geotechnical studies during the term of the successive permit.

If you intend to conduct geotechnical studies, you must either demonstrate that the studies will not affect cultural resources or endangered species and result in minimal disturbance to land and waters, or file a work plan. In the latter case, the work plan must contain: (i) a description, including the approximate location, of any field study, test, or other activity that may alter or disturb lands or waters in the vicinity of the proposed project, including floodplains and wetlands; measures that would be taken to minimize any such disturbance; and measures that would be taken to restore the altered or disturbed areas; and (ii) a proposed schedule (a chart or graph may be used), the total duration of which does not exceed the proposed term of the permit, showing the intervals at which the studies, investigations, tests, and surveys, identified under this paragraph are proposed to be completed.

2. As explained in your original permit, the proposed project would require a Lease of Power Privilege (LOPP) from the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) for the use of Anderson Ranch Reservoir. Letters filed by Reclamation on April 4, 2017 and January 31, 2019, indicate that you have begun that LOPP process by receiving approval from Reclamation on October 17, 2016 to be a preliminary leasee for a five- year period. The January 31, 2019 filing also indicates that you have entered into a contributed-funds-agreement contract with Reclamation on May 9, 2017. However both letters indicate that you have not provided the required funding for Reclamation’s review of the project, entered into a preliminary LOPP agreement with Reclamation, or begun conducting the studies required by Reclamation to evaluate project impacts. The letters also indicate that Reclamation does not intend to commit resources to processing your proposed project until the required funding is provided. Reclamation’s January 31, 2019, filing states that if you are still interested in this project that it is critical to initiate these steps to attempt to complete the required LOPP steps by October 16, 2021.

Therefore, please file an update on your efforts at conducting the LOPP process steps with noted in Reclamation’s January 31, 2019 letter.

 

 

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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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