In the western United States, the fight to control water has led to spectacular boondoggles — and colossal failures. One of the most infamous was the Teton Dam, constructed in 1976 to help eastern Idaho farmers irrigate their crops. As the dam began filling it inundated the wild Teton Canyon behind it, stilling the river’s waters. Before the earthen dam completely filled, it failed, flooding the downstream towns of Rexburg and Sugar City, killing 11, and causing millions in damages.
Recently, Idaho legislators have proposed building a new dam at the same site. But the politics of water and wildness have changed in the past three decades, and the value of the Teton Canyon and the free-flowing Teton River as a wildlife corridor and recreation destination have raised the stakes in the political fight for a new dam. Watch this video produced for Trout Unlimited.