Idaho Power has clout to help Baker County with its parks funding problem
I grew up in Eagle Valley and still have strong ties there — family, friends, cowboying, and emotional. Hewitt and Holcomb parks need to be supported. Pharmacist “Shorty” Hewitt died when I was quite young but I remember him and my folks getting prescriptions filled at his store. I clearly remember John Holcomb who was just a few years older than I. He was tall, crew-cut handsome, extremely athletic, and smiled continually. He died while saving his fellow soldiers and is Baker County’s only Medal of Honor recipient. The parks in their names are fitting legacies of these two good people and their service to community and country.
The park funding problems result from low use and associated lack of income. The cause of low use is periodic low water level in Brownlee Reservoir so boats can’t be launched. The cause of low water is the Corps of Engineers directing Idaho Power in reservoir operation. If the problem is going to be remedied, it has to come from the Corps of Engineers. And our underlying problem is lack of political clout in our low population and commerce perspective to affect the Corps. Can you imagine wildly fluctuating water levels behind the Columbia River dams if they were used for flood control instead of Brownlee? Can you imagine tugboat and barge traffic stopped because water level was too low there? Can you imagine power generation being curtailed, power that serves the Portland area? Well, I can’t either.
If anyone has the clout to get change from the Corps it has to be Idaho Power. They need to fight harder for all of us. It would be nice if they helped more with park funding but the community needs the park users. It’s a bigger issue than just the parks.