Lower Yellowstone Project

The Lower Yellowstone Project (Project) was authorized by the Secretary of the Interior on May 10, 1904. The Project was designed to provide a dependable supply of irrigation water to support approximately 54,000 acres of land located on the west side of the Yellowstone River. Approximately two-thirds of the irrigated lands are in Montana with the remaining lands located in North Dakota.

Project Overview Project Overview

Construction of the Project began in 1905, which included Intake Diversion Dam (also known as Yellowstone River Diversion Dam) – a wood and stone diversion dam that spans the Yellowstone River and is submerged under water year-round. The Intake Diversion Dam is located approximately 70 miles upstream from the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers near Glendive, Montana.

The Project consists of four districts:

  • Lower Yellowstone #1
  • Lower Yellowstone #2
  • Intake
  • Savage

There are three pumping plants within the Project: one at Thomas Point on the main canal, one at Crane on the main canal, and one on Drain 27. These pumps provide water to bench lands located above the main canal that cannot be serviced by gravity feed. These pumps are associated with the Intake and Savage Irrigation Districts.

Pallid Sturgeon Passage and Entrainment Project

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the pallid sturgeon as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1990. The best available science suggests that Intake Diversion Dam impedes upstream migration of pallid sturgeon and their access to potential spawning and larval drift habitat. The Lower Yellowstone River is considered to be one of the best opportunities for recovery of pallid sturgeon.

Section 7(a)(2) requires each Federal agency to consult on any action authorized, funded or carried out by the agency to ensure it does not jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species. Reclamation has been in formal consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service to identify potential conservation measures to minimize adverse effects to pallid sturgeon associated with the continued operation of the Project. The Pallid Sturgeon Recovery Plan identifies providing passage at Intake Diversion Dam to protect and restore pallid sturgeon populations. By providing passage at Intake Diversion Dam, approximately 165 river miles of potential spawning and larval drift habitat would become accessible in the Yellowstone River.

Section 3109 of the 2007 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) authorizes the US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to assist Reclamation with funding from the Missouri River Recovery and Mitigation Program for the design and construction of Reclamation's Lower Yellowstone Project at Intake, Montana for the purposes of ecosystem restoration. Planning and construction of the project is a Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA) for the Corps in the 2003 Missouri River Amended Biological Opinion as amended by letter exchanged in 2009, 2010, and 2013.

Rockramp and new screened headworks. Rockramp and new screened headworks.

In 2010, Reclamation and the Corps authorized the construction of a rock ramp and new screened headworks with the completion of an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact. The construction of the new headworks is complete and began operation during the 2012 irrigation season. During the final design of the rock ramp important new information on the design, constructability and sustainability of the proposed rock ramp surfaced along with new information regarding pallid sturgeon movement which led to a reevaluation of fish passage options.

In 2013, the Corps and Reclamation conducted a planning effort to examine new and previously considered alternatives. Following this effort, the Corps and Reclamation identified the bypass channel for detailed analysis which included a constraint related to Reclamation's obligation to deliver water necessary to continue viable and effective operation of the irrigation project. A Supplemental Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact selecting the bypass channel were completed in April of 2015. In response to concerns about the selected bypass channel alternative, the Corps and Reclamation are proposing to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.


Lower Yellowstone Pallid Sturgeon Passage and Entrainment Project

Current Public Involvement – National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Process

2016 Environmental Impact Statement

*The Public Comment Period has been extended to July 28, 2016*

Comments can be submitted to the following:

  • Written or Spoken Comments at the Public Meetings (June 28, 29, 30)
  • Email: cenwo-planning@usace.army.mil
    Mail:
    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    Omaha District
    ATTN: CENWO-PM_AA
    1616 Capitol Avenue
    Omaha, NE 68102

Public Meeting Dates and Times

  • Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm (Formal Presentation at 6:00)
    Richland County Fair Event Center - 5th Street Southwest, Sidney, Montana
  • Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm (Formal Presentation at 6:00)
    Dawson County Highschool Auditorium - 900 North Merrill Avenue, Glendive, Montana
  • Thursday, June 30, 2016 - 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm (Formal Presentation at 6:00)
    Lincoln Center - 425 North 30th Street, Billings, Montana

Draft Lower Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam Fish Passage Project EIS Addendum

Draft Lower Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam Fish Passage Project EIS

Lower Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam Fish Passage Project – Peer Review Plan

Lower Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam Fish Passage Project – Public Scoping

Previous Public Involvement – National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Process

2015 – Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact

Final Supplement to the 2010 Final Environmental Assessment

Draft Supplement to the 2010 Final Environmental Assessment

Public Meetings

2010 – Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact

Reclamation and the Corps Planning and Design Reports

Reclamation Endangered Species Act Consultation

Reclamation Pallid Sturgeon Monitoring

Intake Diversion Dam Modification Project History Reports

Last Updated: 6/20/16