Tim and Wendy Brockish, Fall River Electric owner-members in Madison County, Idaho, in an area known to locals as the Texas Slough have come to love the wildlife that inhabits the area near their home. The slough is a tributary to the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River and because it is spring-fed, the water remains open during Idaho’s cold winters. It has become winter habitat for trumpeter swans.
In recent years, despite Fall River Electric’s efforts to place reflective “bird diverters” on the Co-op’s overhead power lines, more trumpeter swan fatalities have occurred. These lines were constructed in the 1980s, long before swans discovered the slough. Under normal conditions, the diverters have worked well in avian areas but winter conditions along the Texas Slough are unique. When the warm water of the slough meets the cold winter air, fog forms obscuring the powerlines and reflectors. The Brockishs brought their concerns to Fall River Electric’s CEO/General Manager Bryan Case last fall and together they launched a fundraising effort to pay to bury the powerlines along the slough.
Using social media and connections to interested individuals and organizations, over $100,000 in private funds were raised in just five short weeks…100% of the goal. Even before all the donations were in, but because of the momentum of the fundraising, CEO Case committed crews to immediately go to work to bury the lines before freezing temperatures prevented the work from being accomplished. According to Case, “We were so pleased with the collaboration of all the parties involved but most especially by the sense of urgency that everyone felt, that moving ahead with the project before all the funding was in place made sense.”
In addition to a contribution from Tim & Wendy, Fall River Electric members from all over the country contributed as did a number of employees of the Co-op. Thanks to these organizations for their financial contributions too:
- Friends of Camas National Wildlife Refuge
- Idaho Fish & Game
- Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative
- Snake River Audubon Society
- Portneuf Valley Audubon Society
- Idaho Fish & Wildlife Foundation
- The Trumpeter Swan Society
- Northwest Swan Conservation Society
The project has been completed and the wintering swans are safer than ever! Ruth Shea of the Trumpeter Swan Society said, “This is something to be very proud of for many years to come. It is not often possible to make such a lasting difference so quickly.”
Tim Brockish added, “Everyone at Fall River Electric has been exceptional and has helped make this undertaking so positive and exciting from beginning to end. Thank you all so very, very much.”
Fall River Electric members are invited to join a fundraising effort to reduce trumpeter swan deaths in the Texas Slough area located southwest of Rexburg, in Madison County, Idaho. The Texas Slough is a tributary of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. What makes it attractive to trumpeter swans is, because the slough is spring-fed, it remains “open water” during the winter when most other area lakes and ponds are frozen. This open water characteristic, the nutritious sago pond weeds that are plentiful in the slough, and the increasing population of trumpeter swans have made it a swan “hotspot” each winter. Historically, the area was not frequented by swans but as the population has rebounded the Texas Slough is now utilized by swans the year around.