Robert Sobba

A Century of Conservation

In 1902, President Teddy Roosevelt pushed Congress to fund irrigation projects in the U.S. that resulted in the passage of the Reclamation Act. There was little money designed for Idaho, but a group of visionaries, lead by James Lowell, pushed congress for funding. Their efforts led to $1.5 million dollars being given to build embankments for an irrigation project in Canyon County, and to improve and expand the New York Canal from Boise to Caldwell to funnel water into what would soon be called Lake Lowell. President Roosevelt was also an avid supporter of preserving wildlife, and as this area was in a fly pattern for migratory birds, Lake Lowell was designated as a National Bird Refuge. Later it was changed to being a refuge for all wildlife and now provides over 10,000 acres of protected land. Building the man-made lake was a major project utilizing manpower, horses, mules, and steam engines. After its completion, irrigation water was available for thousands of acres of farm land. It was the first step in the water project that later saw the building of the Lucky Peak, Arrowrock, and Anderson Ranch Dams that made Idaho an agricultural giant in America.