The Big Wood Canal Company shut off Magic Reservoir at noon Thursday, putting an exceptionally early stop to irrigation season for hundreds of growers in Shoshone, Richfield and Dietrich.
Magic Dam was shut off due to low snowpack this past winter, low carryover from last summer’s drought and ongoing severe drought conditions.
On Thursday, it stood around 4% capacity, the Canal Co. reported.
The dam usually isn’t shut off until late September, when irrigation demand exceeds the reservoir’s capacity. Last year, it shut off on Sept. 1.
Fish salvage issued
Meanwhile, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game ordered a public fish salvage for the Big Wood River below the dam and the Richfield Canal diversion.
Shutting the gate “functionally de-waters” the Big Wood, Fish and Game said, meaning trout below Magic Dam face nearly certain death when water temperatures rise and flows decrease.
Starting Thursday, bag and possession limits are removed from the railroad trestle downstream of the dam to the state Highway 75 bridge. The order also includes the Richfield Canal from its diversion point from the Big Wood to where it meets the Little Wood River.
Trout Unlimited member Ed Northen said on Thursday that the local Hemingway chapter will likely conduct a fish rescue below the dam.
Anyone with a valid 2021 fishing license can salvage fish, using any method besides chemicals, electric current or firearms.