Bureau of Reclamation begins habitat improvement at Minidoka Dam

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RUPERT, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) The Bureau of Reclamation is adding back wetland habitat to the area below the Minidoka Dam.

These birds are grateful to be getting an expanded home.

“That whole area gets substantial bird use throughout the entire year. It's real important,” said Ryan Newman, Snake River field office manager.

When the Bureau of Reclamation added the new spillway to the Minidoka Dam a few years ago, the blueprint covered up some of the wetland habitat.

“It's the right thing to do,” said Newman. “We lost four acres so we want to replace it with four more.”

In section 404 of the Clean Water Act, it requires the Bureau of Reclamation to do a one-for-one replacement.

“So basically one acre is lost, one acre needs to be constructed,” said Newman.

The work will happen on the south side of the spillway and administrators expect it to be done around Sept. 25.

“So it's not closed as long people like to get in and fish,” said Newman. “It's an important access area so we're trying to be as quick as we can and get it done but still do a good job and get those wetlands replaced.”

The Minidoka Dam was constructed between 1904 and 1909, making it one of reclamation's oldest facilities.

“It’s pretty remarkable the number of birds that get out there,” said Newman.

Access to the popular Bishops Hole will not be restricted, but if you're in the area, you're asked to respect posted signs.

“We will have barricades set up and things will show where the perimeter is,” said Newman.

The Bureau has many ongoing mitigation projects across southern Idaho.

“So we've got our hands in quite a few different things besides just a power plant,” said Newman.

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