In 1938, a diversion dam was built in Fremont County that
supplied water to area farmers but blocked the path for fish. In a few months,
fish will be able to move past the Chester Dam again and spawn in new spots
along the Henry’s Fork.
For 75 years, the Fall River Electric Cooperative has been
providing power to customers in the Upper Valley, western Wyoming, and southern
Montana. They’ve done this by generating power at their four dams and by
purchasing electricity, mostly from the Bonneville Power Administration. When
the Chester Dam project is completed, it will provide roughly four percent of
the co-op’s energy needs.
“I think in the long term it allows Fall River Electric to
produce more of our own energy, so that we are not buying that energy from
someone else” said Ted Austin of Fall River Electric. “From a sustainability
standpoint, it continues to help keep our costs down.”
The plan is to raise the level of the dam but they won’t be
using, rock, concrete, or even dirt.
“This final phase that we are working on now is to install a
38 inch high rubber dam on top of the existing concrete diversion dam,” said
Austin. “What that does is it raises the reservoir level, the upstream level,
and increases the flow that goes through the turbines.”
One of the unique things about this improvement project is
that the dam is being built with fish in mind.
“With the help of the Henry’s Fork Foundation, Trout Unlimited,
and The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, they funded a fish ladder, continued
Austin. “And so this is the first time that a fish ladder has been at this
facility. This will be the first time that fish will be able to migrate up and
down past the Chester Dam.”
The canal which draws its water from the dam will also be
outfitted with fish screens to keep the fish out of the canal and in the Henry’s
The rubber dam should be in place by the end of the year
with the entire project done in February.