Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Save The Clock Tower . . . Uh, I Mean the Teton!

A cross-section of the failed Teton Dam

I love the Teton River. I love it from the smelly little meanders it makes through Rexburg to the site of the failed Teton Dam to the wilds of the river upstream that I've never even seen. One of these days when I'm braver and the kids are a little older, we'll float the river, like I did a loooooong time ago when we floated the river as a church group and ended up coming out near the Driggs sewer lagoons.

I'd rather not see the Teton Dam rebuilt, and not for the scaremongering reasons so many bring up. I'd just like to see the river remain free in its confining canyon, a wild little spot I can go visit when I want to.

Now Trout Unlimited is pushing an effort to get the river declared a wild and scenic river. Good on them:

I've got to be honest, the Teton really resembles Patrick F. McManus' description of a crick rather than a creek, especially the parts I'm most familiar with:
First of all a creek has none of the raucous, vulgar, freewheeling character of a crick. If they were people, creeks would wear tuxedos and amuse themselves with the ballet, opera, and witty conversation; cricks would go around in their undershirts and amuse themselves with the Saturday night fights, taverns, and humorous belching. Creeks would perspire and cricks, sweat. Creeks would smoke pipes; cricks, chew and spit.

Creeks tend to be pristine. They meander regally through high mountain meadows, cascade down dainty waterfalls, pause in placid pools, ripple over beds of gleaming gravel and polished rock. They sparkle in the sunlight. Deer and poets sip from creeks, and images of eagles wheel upon the surface of their mirrored depths.

Cricks, on the other hand, shuffle through cow pastures, slog through beaver dams, gurgle through culverts, ooze through barnyards, sprawl under sagging bridges, and when not otherwise occupied, thrash fitfully on their beds of quicksand and clay. Cows should perhaps be credited with giving cricks their most pronounced characteristic. In deference to the young and the few ladies left in the world whose sensitivities might be offended, I forgo a detailed description of this characteristic. Let me say only that to a cow the whole universe is a bathroom, and it makes no exception for cricks. A single cow equipped only with determination and fairly good aim can in a matter of hours transform a perfectly good creek into a crick.
That doesn't mean I don't like the "creek" part of the Teton; it's just that I can't really walk alongside the creek part. I'm not much of a fisherman or boater, you see. I like my rivers from the shore. But I like the idea of the creek part being held in reserve, because of how sometimes the crick part looks. In Rexburg, for example, the south fork pretty much dries up, becoming a poor chain of pools as the water is diverted for irrigation. Rexburg likes to brag about its little pathways along the river, but until there's water in the river year-round, who wants to take the pathways to see huge stinking piles of dead fish? You don't need the pathways anyway; you can just walk on the dry river bed.
So let's save the Teton River. Don't dam it up.

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