Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Henry's Fork Motors: Unfortunate Conclusion

It appears that its finally over, at least the first fight. And for those of us who want to keep motors off the famed Henry's Fork, we can only wonder about the opposition: why exactly are they doing this?

Early this week the Fremont Country Board of Commissioners passed an ordinance that bans motors from large portions of the river, but unfortunately (in my view) allows motors on several stretches of river--particularly the stretch from Vernon Bridge downstream to the Fun Farm Bridge pool.

From the Island Park News:
The ordinance lists the following waterways as "restricted motor zones:"
* 15 hp. maximum on the Big Springs Outlet from the Union Pacific Trestle Bridge to the confluence with the Henry's Fork (Henry's Lake Outlet).
*15 hp. maximum on the Henry's Fork from the confluence with the Big Springs Outlet to Mack's Inn Bridge.
* 15 hp. maximum on the Henry's Fork from Vernon Bridge to the northeast corner of the second island upstream of the Fun Farm Bridge, approximately in line with 700 North Road.
* No hp maximum on the Henry's Fork from the Fun Farm diversion dams to the Fremont-Madison County line. 
This ordinance actually increases the horsepower limitation from 10 to 15 hp, despite the fact that the majority of public comments (75% according to Island Park News) were against motors on the Vernon Bridge section, and the fact that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) warned the commissioners (via letter and public testimony) that motors on that stretch could "undermine decades of trumpeter swan management efforts." Its always nice to see the local government agencies work together.

There are rumors that the Henry's Fork Foundation (to whom the commissioners seemed to be openly hostile) might challenge the ordinance in court, on what grounds I do not know.

Another thing I don't know is what drove this whole issue. Landowners didn't seem to support motors (check out this letter in one of the local papers), the majority of river users were against it, and the IDFG was against it. Who exactly was for it? I mean other than three commissioners and their cronies.*

*I always wanted to write something like that. Now I feel like a newspaperman from the 1940s.

Maybe someday we will know, but for now I'll be trying to dodge the drift boats coming downstream and motorboats headed up. Welcome to life as a wading fisherman on the lower Henry's Fork.


  1. Thanks for providing an update on this issue. Much like the decisions of my county's own rabidly anti-everyone-who-isn't-them Board of Supervisors, this one's going to leave a lot of people shaking their heads.


  2. Ooops, rented fingers.

    I'll post something about this on the Underground early next week. Let's hope this issue's only settled for now...

  3. Thanks, TC. A decision like this defies logic, yet it strangely it also not surprising. Rural county politics are more complex than they appear, I think.

  4. Thanks for keeping the public updated on this. The battle wasn't completely lost, but hopefully we can restore sanity in the near future.

  5. Anonymous, no problem on the updates, I just wish that increased awareness would have made more of a difference.