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FR&R in the Movies Swing Vote Shows Whose Opinions Count When producers of the new Kevin Costner movie Swing Vote needed a fishing-publishing prop,

Cover celeb Kevin Costner

FR&R in the Movies
Swing Vote Shows Whose Opinions Count

When producers of the new Kevin Costner movie Swing Vote needed a fishing-publishing prop, they turned to Fly Rod& Reel for assistance. Costner himself asked to be put on the cover of a copy of Fly Rod& Reel. When he saw the finished product, he was so pleased he requested several copies for his personal collection, and he sent back a handful of autographed copies to the magazine’s offices.

“We’re thrilled to have our magazine showcased in the film. And by appearing on our cover, Kevin Costner joins a list of other celebrities who’ve been featured there (although on real covers), including Chuck Yeager, Ted Turner and Tom Brokaw,” says Associate Publisher Joe Healy. In Swing Vote, Costner plays the beer-swilling lay-about Bud Johnson, who prefers fishing to social responsibilities such as voting; then it becomes clear that his single vote will break a tie in the presidential election. At one point in the film, a campaign manager demands,“Who is this guy? I wanna know what he reads.” Later in the film, Costner is shown modeling with a fish on a cover of Fly Rod& Reel. The cover story is called“Bud Johnson: A Reel Catch.” Apologies for the overworked pun, but that’s Hollywood….

CONSERVATION UPDATE

Teton River Threatened

By Bruce Smithhammer

It happened 32 years ago, but few eastern Idahoans will forget it—the collapse of the Teton Dam. During the dam’s construction, Trout Unlimited, along with other concerned groups, filed a formal complaint requesting an injunction to stop the project. The complaint noted that insufficient environmental analysis had been conducted and called attention in particular to the poor rock quality in the area of the proposed construction. The court at the time threw out the complaint, and allowed construction to continue. On June 5, 1976, the dam failed before the reservoir had entirely filled, killing 11 people downstream, destroying thousands of homes and businesses and causing almost $1 billion in damage.

Today, the remnants of the dam still stand in mute testimony to the tragedy, the worst failure in the Bureau of Reclamation’s history. Many assumed that would be the end of the story, but in May of this year, the Idaho Department of Water Resources was granted $400,000 to conduct a“feasibility study” for a new dam on the lower Teton River.

For those unfamiliar with the Teton River, what would really be at stake if a new dam were to be built? For one, a native cutthroat fishery, which is already seriously struggling due to introduction of non-native species and de-watering of critical tributaries during spawning season. In addition, the lower Teton passes through a 17-mile canyon of unique and rugged beauty that would likely be left underwater. In 2001, two separate studies of 43 watersheds in the region ranked the Upper Teton Watershed as the highest priority for restoration, based on indices of vulnerability and irreplaceability. Peter Anderson, staff attorney for the Idaho Water Project of Trout Unlimited, had this to say:“(The dam) would replace cold water riverine trout and wildlife habitat that was terrifically wounded by the original Teton Dam, with warm, flat-water habitat. Additionally, depending upon whether an effective fish ladder is installed, it could permanently separate the upper and lower Teton River.”

Perhaps recognizing that, given the history, the dam would be a hard sell, director of the Idaho Department of Water Resources, Dave Tuthill, recently traveled to Driggs to speak about the future of water management in Teton County. Tuthill presented a compelling case for expanding Idaho’s water-containment infrastructure, citing concerns over future availability of water given increasing residential and commercial pressures, combined with a general trend toward warming temperatures and decreased precipitation in recent years. Tuthill also placed the Teton Dam proposal within the“bigger picture” plan for the entire Snake River drainage across the state—a total of 10 sites (including the Teton), identified as possibilities for new dams or other types of containment.

While there was much talk during Tuthill’s presentation of“conservation” as the Idaho Dept. of Water Resources defines it (places to contain water), there seemed to be little talk of“conservation” as many others would define it (mandating efficient use, penalizing waste and not allowing demand to exceed supply).
With that in mind, the central questions are, Do we truly need this dam, and are there preferable alternatives? Anderson of Trout Unlimited said“We should let the studies lead us to a solution, rather than proposing a solution and using the studies to justify it. There is no question that Idaho will have to seriously consider additional water storage in the future. But the thinking behind such storage must be based on whether those projects are environmentally responsible, whether they are economically feasible and whether or not they can be built in a manner that is safe.”

In related news, The Orvis Company recently partnered with the Teton Valley-based conservation group Friends of the Teton River to initiate the Teton Creek Restoration Project. A collaborative effort between both organizations along with private landowners and local, state and federal stakeholders on Teton Creek, the goal is to turn one of the primary tributaries of the Teton River back into a productive spawning ground and migratory route for Yellowstone cutthroat trout.•

Bruce Smithhammer lives in Victor, Idaho, and works for High Country Flies in Jackson, Wyoming.