Bare land at Bear Lake

  People who live near drought-plagued Bear Lake, along the Idaho-Utah border, don't want to see water levels drop another four feet. Yet dredging by Utah Power & Light, which aims to dig a 2,000-foot channel to a pumping station at the north end of the lake, would do just that. The company needs the water to continue generating power at six hydro plants down the river. The Army Corps of Engineers approved the plan in May 1993, but three citizens groups sued the Corps last December. Local opponents said the dredging could turn the lake into a mosquito-infested marsh. In a partial victory for locals, the Corps reversed itself in January and directed Utah Power and Light to obtain a permit. Although residents along the lakeshore must obtain a permit just to pull weeds on exposed lake bed near their homes, the Corps had maintained that the dredging was exempt under the Clean Water Act. The permit process now required includes a public hearing scheduled for March 8 in Montpelier, Idaho. For more information contact the citizens' group, Bear Lake Watch, at Box 205, Fish Haven, ID 83287.