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Environmentalists Oppose Federally-Endorsed Dam Proposal

Federal energy officials have endorsed a controversial proposal to build a dam in the Cleveland National Forest. Environmentalists say the billion-dollar proposed hydroelectric project would destroy t

Federal energy officials have endorsed a controversial proposal to build a dam in the Cleveland National Forest. Environmentalists say the billion-dollar proposed hydroelectric project would destroy the pristine wilderness area. KPBS Reporter Ed Joyce has details.

The Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District and a Nevada company want to build a reservoir, dam and hydroelectric facility in Decker Canyon. The project involves pumping water uphill from Lake Elsinore to a reservoir built in Decker Canyon. The water would be released downhill to generate electricity and provide power during periods of peak energy use. Environmentalists say the project would mar scenic views and would eliminate a popular hiking area. John Buse is with the Center for Biological Diversity. He says the project would destroy hiking areas.

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<b> Buse: </b> This big hydroelectric dam is being placed in the Cleveland National Forest on public lands highly scenic and in some cases roadless areas with miles and miles of power lines stretching through the forest.

Greg Morrison is with the Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District. Morrison says the project uses a small part of the wilderness.

<b> Morrison: </b> You have other uses in the Cleveland National Forest like hiking and biking and off-road vehicles that actually can go in the Cleveland National Forest that we think have much higher impact on the forest than a non-polluting hydroelectric plant.

Federal energy officials are expected to decide later this year whether the hydro project moves forward. Ed Joyce, KPBS News.