Almost 50 people had a great time floating down the Weiser River. Marie Kellner photo.

Editor’s note: ICL, along with colleague organizations Idaho Organization of Resource Councils, Weiser River Resource Council, Idaho Rivers United, and Friends of the Weiser River Trail, organized a float down southwest Idaho’s Weiser River last weekend. Here’s a review of the trip by Gayle Buhrer Poorman of the FWRT.  

Early Saturday morning, April 16, 2016, the Weiser River was flowing swift and cold at 2700 cubic feet/second. In the frosty air of the Midvale put-in, about 50 hearty souls prepared rafts, canoes and kayaks in anticipation of a fun day.

Just after 9 am, we pushed off and swift current carried the boats between muddy banks toward Galloway Canyon. Along the way, we spotted a nest with an awesome pair of bald eagles that were attending their home and future family.

Swallows swooped around the boats as we glided through the Weiser/Galloway portal. The canyon hills were vibrant-blanketed in a spring green carpet of lomatium (biscuitroot), sage brush, bitter brush and annual grasses. Brilliant yellow arrowleaf balsamroot flowers speckled the ridges. As the mellow ripples of the river turned more aggressive, the paddlers and oarsmen and women negotiatedclass II rapids and churning waves that thrilled and splashed their passengers. Smiles and laughter abounded.
Past the rapids, the party stopped in a shady area along the bank of the river. A delicious sandwich bar sprang up, made by Julia Page, from the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils. As we enjoyed our lunches, Marie Kellner of the Idaho Conservation League introduced the lunchtime speakers, who spoke about the implications of the proposed Weiser/Galloway dam.

Don Anderson, a member of the Weiser River Resource Council, spoke about the wildlife, the impacts of the proposed reservoir and possible mercury leaching from an abandoned mine site, and the geology of the area around the proposed dam site itself. "The dam site would require special measures to ensure the stability of the dam’s abutments," said Anderson.

Mike Larkin, also a member of the WRRC, spoke of how the upper reaches of the Weiser River had been channeled by the Army Corps of Engineers in the last century. "This led to agricultural use that has causedsevere erosion of the riverbanks that could increase the sediment load into the proposed reservoir," said Larkin.

Gayle Poorman, with the Friends of the Weiser River Trail, pointed out the Weiser River Trail that runs along the bank of the river through the canyon. "About 16 miles of this stretch of the trail would be inundated by the reservoir and would need to be relocated," said Poorman.

After lunch, it was back in the boats to continue the day’s adventure. The canyon receded and the boaters found themselves floating through open rangeland. Cattle grazed contentedly near the banks of the river. Soon the party arrived at the Presley Trailhead takeout.

The float trip was fun and successful. Everyone appreciated gaining an awareness of the proposed Weiser/Galloway dam and reservoir, and the impacts they would have on the Weiser River, the Weiser River Trail and the hidden gem of southwestern Idahothat Idahoans have in the remote Galloway Canyon.