A small diversion dam for a controversial hydroelectric project proposed for western Utah's Deep Creek Mountains falls just outside a wilderness study area, federal officials say.
Bureau of Land Management spokesman Jerry Meredith said a survey team recently visited the dam site on Birch Creek and determined it was not within the boundary of the Deep Creek wilderness study area.Utah conservation groups have complained for several months that documents submitted to the BLM and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission indicated the dam was proposed for a site within the potential wilderness area.
Their involvement prompted a call for a new environmental study on the project.
Meredith conceded the documents are confusing but said the BLM has determined the dam site is the location identified on a map attached to a right-of-way application submitted by BMB Enterprises, the Bountiful company proposing the project. The location is outside the study area boundary.
Gary Macfarlane, Utah Wilderness Association conservation director, said resolution of the question will not end opposition to the proj-ect.
Conservationists are still worried about the elimination of 10,000 feet of stream habitat, some of which supports the rare Bonneville cutthroat trout.
BMB plans to divert water from Birch and Trout creeks and pipe it to the hydroelectric plant near the community of Trout Creek in Juab County. The water would then be used by area farmers.
Macfarlane said federal regulations require BMB to submit a wildlife mitigation plan to FERC by the end of April and to begin construction on the project by July.