FTR continues to work with the community to stabilize and reconstruct a critically damaged stream channel and flood plain on Teton Creek. Although millions of dollars have been expended, and risk of loss has decreased, a great deal of additional work remains to be done. Success will only come as a result of numerous stakeholders working together to solve this challenging issue.
In 2006, FTR was approached by landowners along Teton Creek who were concerned that the creek’s banks had become highly unstable due to illegal dredging and channelization. This posed a significant risk to adjacent properties and the City of Driggs. FTR responded by forming the Teton Creek Stakeholders, made up of Teton Creek home and landowners, irrigators, and city, county, state, and federal partners.
Alterations were made to Teton Creek in the 1990s in order to develop along the creek’s banks. This caused severe erosion and sediment build-up that has radically increased the risks to surrounding infrastructure when the creek floods. Unlike some streams, which are carved into stable bedrock, Teton Creek’s stream channel and banks are made of sand, gravels, and rounded rocks that were deposited by past floods. In this type of stream, the channel is held in place primarily by the roots of streamside trees, and can move side-to-side within its floodplain even during relatively small flood events every few years. If stabilizing vegetation is removed or toppled by erosion, the stream becomes even more susceptible to movement, placing nearby homes and infrastructure at great risk of damage or loss.
FTR and the Teton Creek Stakeholders, along with the Teton Creek Flood Control District, have been working together to assess and reduce the risk that floods will damage homes and infrastructure. These groups agree that the best way to do this is to protect and restore as much of Teton Creek’s floodplain as possible.
It will take a great deal of continued cooperation and community dialogue about the potential risks inherent in developing near streams. It will also mean making some challenging decisions about what land is best left undeveloped, in order to proactively reduce the long-term costs to our community of floodplain development. Success will only come as a result of numerous stakeholders working together to solve this challenging issue