One half-vast dam

  Dear HCN,


Ed Marston's visit to the Teton Dam disaster, described in his "Truth telling" essay (HCN, 9/25/00: Truth-telling needs a home in the West), reminded me of my involvement with that dam. In 1971, Gov. Cecil Andrus appointed me as the token environmentalist to the Idaho Water Resource Board. We soon thereafter visited the potential dam site and heard from the boosters. Using economic data prepared by now Rep. Ken Robinson, who was then editor of the Idaho Statesman, I made some public statements opposing the Teton Dam, including a letter written on water board stationery, for which I got into a heap of trouble.


The project proceeded with the water board endorsement. The Idaho Water Resource Board had also joined with the Oregon Water Resource Board to support another dam in Hells Canyon. In about 1975, the Oregon board withdrew its support.


I put together a little satirical piece about a "half-vast project" in which only the Idaho half of the dam would be built, but it would still be a great tourist attraction plus providing all those dollars in construction.


Not very long after, the Teton Dam collapsed. Sometime later the Bureau of Reclamation built the parking lot that the article mentioned and the visitor center which we subsequently visited. It seemed to me as if the Bureau of Reclamation had delivered my half-vast project. I am sorry to learn that it hasn't kept up as a major attraction.


Scott W. Reed
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
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