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Photo Gallery: How a High-Voltage Transmission Line Could Alter the Eastern Oregon Landscape

written by Kevin Max

excerpted from David vs. Goliath, by Lee Lewis Husk

photography by Joni Kabana

THIS IS WHAT the Oregon Trail looks like now. If Idaho Power and PacifiCorp have their way, it will look very different.

An estimated 80,000 early pioneers arrived in Oregon on the Oregon Trail, passing over the American West and etching their journey in miles of wagon wheel ruts. These ruts stand witness to an historic and epic journey, the evidence still visible almost two centuries later.

A proposed high-voltage power line by two privately owned entities—Idaho Power and PacifiCorp plus the Bonneville Power Administration—would run 300 miles from Boardman, Oregon, to Hemingway, Idaho, giving it the moniker B2H. This overhead power transmission line is built over landmarks in Oregon to provide power mostly to Boise. In the process, B2H is siting these towers and lines across sensitive wildlife habitat and beautiful open views along the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

How will Oregon benefit? B2H itemizes several private or fleeting benefits, but after construction is over, the Oregon Trail may feel more like the Boise Transmission Trail, as a national historic treasure will sit beneath privately owned power lines for the benefit of Boise residents.

Rich and Bonnie Smith, with their dog Gracie, hike along the Oregon Trail near Baker City.

Joni Kabana

Part of the Oregon Trail, near Baker City.

Joni Kabana

The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.

Joni Kabana

Visitors walk along part of the trail.

Joni Kabana

Devan Wood takes a stroll along the Oregon Trail to look at historical artifacts from the trail days.

Joni Kabana

Old homesteads, such as this one in Sparta, still stand along the Oregon Trail.

Joni Kabana

Wildlife is in abundance along the Oregon Trail.

Joni Kabana

The Wallowa Mountains glow in the distance from the standpoint of the Oregon Trail.

Joni Kabana

Pristine mountains and forests along the Oregon Trail near Baker City.

Joni Kabana

Wildlife near the trail.

Joni Kabana

Ranches, such as this one in Durkee, operate nearby.

Joni Kabana

You can find Lee Lewis Husk’s piece on B2H, which appeared in our Sept/Oct 2019 issue, at www.1859oregonmagazine.com.

Go to www.boardmantohemingway.com to see what this may look like if the B2H project passes Oregon state approval.

Get involved with nonprofit www.StopB2H.org.

To voice your opinion, email Oregon Department of Energy senior siting analyst Kellen Tardaewether, kellen.tardaewether@oregon.gov, or call direct 503.373.0214.