1What is the motivation for the revitalization of the Portneuf River?
The Portneuf River has been neglected over the years and, at many locations along its path, is an eyesore. Yet, through the years, activists and the City itself recognized the Portneuf River as offering huge potential for natural, community, and economic resources which, if harnessed, would present significant opportunities to revitalize the adjacent neighborhoods. Against this background, the City’s Ad Hoc Portneuf River Visioning Working Group, established in 2015, is spearheading efforts to launch the Portneuf River Visioning Plan—a plan aimed at enhancing existing neighborhoods and business districts by creating a safe environment with more open space, parks, trails, recreation, environmental restoration, riverfront living and commerce, new jobs, neighborhood identity, economic development, tourism, and civic pride.
2What is the length of the Portneuf River?
The entire Portneuf River runs 124 miles from its headwaters above Chesterfield Reservoir to its mouth at American Falls Reservoir. This project specifically focuses on a 12-mile stretch from the Portneuf Gap (Fort Hall Mine Road) to the Reservation boundary (Siphon Road).
3Who is responsible for revitalizing and restoring the Portneuf River?
Revitalization and restoration of the River will ultimately be a joint effort among the City of Pocatello, Bannock County, and (within the Flood Control project) the US Army Corps of Engineers. Following development of the Portneuf River vision, decisions will need to be made regarding who will lead the implementation of the vision. Further, any changes to the physical configuration of the River’s concrete channel and earthen levees will involve approval and potential funding support by the Federal government.
4Who are the key Portneuf River stakeholders?
Every individual, organization, and business in the Portneuf Valley is a key River stakeholder. The planning process will involve everyone in decision-making activities via well-publicized workshops, meetings and River-related events.
5Will it be possible to remove the concrete from the river?
The Portneuf Visioning Document will include alternatives to reconfigure the channel dimensions which may include the removal of concrete in portions of the river. Any changes made to the channel will be made to maintain or enhance safety during peak flow events. Any materials removed from the Portneuf River will be disposed or recycled in an environmentally sensitive manner. Removal of the concrete, if possible, will provide creative landscaping opportunities for natural conditions.
6What will happen to existing homes next to the concrete channel and levees?
Nothing can happen on private property without landowner permission. For this reason, the visioning process is focused on opportunities to make changes to publicly owned property, while maintaining adequate flood protection for private property.
7How will existing flood protection be addressed?
The number one priority of the River Visioning process is to maintain and provide adequate flood protection for existing homes and businesses. Opportunities to enhance flood protection and safety through a variety of means will be considered. Examples may include the use of detention areas for flood waters and wise watershed practices, for example.
8Will I be able to jog, walk or ride along the Portneuf River?
Part of the plan to revitalize the Portneuf River is to maintain and enhance recreational opportunities and overall quality of life along the Portneuf River. We are looking at diverse recreational improvements to publicly owned land such as green space, bike paths, kayak parks, canoe trails, fishing spots, sports fields and other opportunities to enjoy the Portneuf River’s resources.
9Will there be a committed effort to prevent crime and blight from impacting new recreation areas along the River?
Yes, a key component of revitalization efforts is to address safety concerns so that everyone can enjoy the River and its environs. This includes designing safe spaces as well as integrating elements such as lighting and maintenance recommendations into the process.
10How will revitalization of the River reflect the neighborhood values and aspirations of specific communities and constituencies?
The efforts to revitalize the Portneuf River will include significant community input throughout the process so that all communities and constituencies have a say in helping design a future blueprint for the River for generations to come.
11Who is responsible for keeping the Portneuf River safe and clean?
Maintenance of the Portneuf River channel and levees falls to the City based on requirements from Army Corps of Engineers. The City understands that management of the River must be a shared responsibility among various agencies and organizations. By engaging different partners, the plan can result in a truly collaborative vision with recommendations for inventive and integrated strategies for managing the River.
12Will other neighboring communities be involved in this effort?
The revitalization and restoration of the Portneuf River is currently being coordinated by the City of Pocatello. Throughout the planning and implementation process, the City will seek regional cooperation with adjacent communities such as Bannock County, Power County and the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, along with housing, transportation, recreation, health, economic development, and river-related agencies in order to integrate projects and management objectives to leverage funding sources, cost efficiencies, visibility, and community support.
13Will the restoration and revitalization of the Portneuf River include public art?
The goal of the Visioning document is to engage the public in determining what sorts of features they would like to see along the river, including public art. Based on this input, future planning and implementation efforts will invite stakeholders including residents and artists to dialogue on public art standards, projects and policies.
14Will the Plan seek to incorporate environmentally friendly land use, transportation, and water technologies?
Yes. The revitalization of the Portneuf River seeks to create a sustainable living and working environment along the River. The City of Pocatello has already embarked on programs to provide alternative sources of clean energy, water conservation, and pollution prevention. Restoration and revitalization of the River will seek to showcase and enhance such technologies that may include, but are not limited to, solar energy, water-saving devices, tree planting and use of permeable surfaces to preserve underground water.
15Have other cities taken on projects like this?
Numerous cities across the United States have implemented highly successful riverfront projects that have revitalized adjacent communities. Similar projects include:
- LA River – Los Angeles, CA
- San Antonio Riverwalk – San Antonio, TX
- Brush Creek Cultural Corridor – Kansas City, MO
- Memphis Riverfront Master Plan – Memphis, TN
- Charles River Master Plan – Boston, MA
- Tennessee River – Chattanooga, Tennessee
- Greening of the Platte River – Denver, CO
- River Park and Balboa park Redevelopment – San Diego, CA
- Rio Salado Ecosystem Restoration Project – Phoenix & Tempe, AZ
- North Delaware Riverfront – Philadelphia, PA
- Allegheny Riverfront – Pittsburgh, PA
- Rio Besos – Barcelona, Spain
- Cheonggye Stream Project – South Korea
Success stories include, for example, the San Antonio Riverwalk which has been the catalyst of over $2.8 billion in tourism for the City of San Antonio and the Brush Creek Cultural Corridor in Kansas City which has generated more than $750 million in new development.