Threatened ground squirrel could halt Idaho dam expansion

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Officials say a threatened squirrel species could halt plans to expand a dam in western Idaho.

The Capital Press reports the Idaho Water Resource Board has approved spending up to $30,000 to study mitigation options for the effects of the Lost Valley Dam expansion project on the northern Idaho ground squirrel.

Lost Valley Reservoir Co. board member Doug McAlvain says the dam project could be stalled if population surveys and a related analysis don’t result in viable mitigation steps.

Water users are seeking to raise the dam north of Boise and triple the capacity of its reservoir.

The ground squirrel was federally listed as threatened nearly two decades ago.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says there are 1,500 to 2,200 squirrels across 54 population sites in the state.