A kind of range war is brewing in Blaine County, pitting ranchers against some wealthy property owners, all over beaver dams.
Stockmen say the beavers are taking their water. They are trying to get a law passed in the Legislature to allow Idaho Fish and Game agents to cross private property to remove dams along Broadford Slough west of Bellevue.
But many non-ranchers enjoy watching beavers and other wildlife like sloughs. Tensions have risen during recent irrigation seasons.
“It was like range wars,” said rancher Chris Haugh, who lost all water one year for her horse ranch.
“It was like going back in time, what was going on out here. They say people have killed people over water, and I can understand how it was.”
Some say Broadford is a Big Wood River tributary, but others argue it is just an irrigation ditch. If it is a tributary, it is subject to certain state and federal laws. If it is an irrigation ditch, obstructions can be cleared.
At least 50 homes line the banks. Among the owners are Wall Street investors, doctors and artists.