Bighorn River Alliance Gains Momentum in Advance of Reclamation Meeting


From Bighorn River Alliance: As a part of a months long public information campaign concerning the federal mismanagement of the Bighorn River and Yellowtail Dam, the Bighorn River Alliance is proud to have received letters of support from Senator Jon Tester, Governor Steve Bullock, the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission, and the Big Horn County Commissioners.

In March of 2018, Governor Bullock wrote to the Bureau, noting that “operations are not performing to meet the needs of private landowners, guides and outfitters, fisherman and fisheries below Yellowtail Dam on the Bighorn River.” Dan Vermillion, the Chairman of the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission asked that “the Bighorn River system not bear a disproportionate share of the risk in years of inaccurate forecasts.”

At its April 24th meeting in Billings, Montana, the Bureau of Reclamation is expected to provide details for how it will work to prevent high flows and flooding on the Bighorn River.

Anne Marie Emery, the Executive Director of the Alliance commented, “A balance in management between reservoir and river users is not only possible but necessary if both recreation areas are to be preserved in a responsible manner. The Alliance looks forward to hearing the Bureau’s plan for better management in the future and is grateful for the many public officials who have expressed their commitment to the Alliance’s cause.”

Board Member Doug Haacke agreed: “With the 2018 water year already proving to be another record-setter, the Alliance applauds Reclamation’s early efforts to date to evacuate storage from the reservoir to make room for spring runoff, but we are also concerned that the reservoir levels are still only slightly below average levels despite the record water year.” He added, “We want to see more effort reflected in policy, since it will be essential to continue on this path moving forward, in order to prevent, or at least mitigate, the extraordinarily high releases seen in the recent past.”

The full letters of support can be viewed on the Bighorn River Alliance’s website, and further details about the April 24th Reclamation meeting can be found here.


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