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of the Interior
The Buffalo Rapids Project, in southeastern Montana, is divided into the First and Second Divisions. Principal structures include five pumping plants that pump water directly from the Yellowstone River and one relift pumping plant to provide irrigation water for 22,719 acres of land in the vicinity of Glendive, Fallon, and Terry, Montana.
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The First Division consists of the Glendive Unit and its extension. It serves 13,254 acres of irrigable land extending from Fallon to Glendive along the west bank of the Yellowstone River. No storage is provided as the water is pumped directly from the Yellowstone River to the Main Canal by motor-driven pumps.
The Second Division serves 9,465 acres of irrigable land along the south bank of the Yellowstone River between Miles City and Fallon, Montana. Three separate tracts of irrigable land are designated as the Shirley, Terry, and Fallon Units. Water is pumped directly from the Yellowstone River for each unit.
Glendive Pumping Plant Nos. 1 and 2 serve the First Division. Shirley, Terry, Fallon, and Fallon Relift Pumping Plants serve the Second Division. All the pumps are operated electrically with power supplied from the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program.
Each unit has a separate canal and lateral system with appurtenant water control structures to provide for distribution of water to the land. A total of 62 miles of canals and 96 miles of laterals is included in the project.
The project is operated by the Buffalo Rapids Board of Control as the agent of Buffalo Rapids Irrigation District No. 1 and Buffalo Rapids Irrigation District No. 2.
Settlers along the Yellowstone River between Miles City and Glendive first attempted irrigation of two tracts of land, one by diversion and the other by pumping. The diversion scheme failed because a suitable diversion dam was not provided. The pumping unit, driven by a fuel-operated powerplants, proved to be too costly. The great part of the area, therefore, reverted to dry farming, which encountered serious difficulties during the extended drought of the 1930`s.
In an effort to combat the depressed conditions, the local businessmen formed the Mid-Yellowstone Recovery Association in 1933 and obtained National Industrial Recovery Act funds for the Bureau of Reclamation to conduct an investigation. Based on the report of this investigation, the Glendive Unit was authorized to be constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation.
The Glendive Unit was approved by the President on September 17, 1937, to irrigate an estimated 15,500 acres with funds provided under the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1937. Glendive Extension was approved by the President on May 15, 1940, for 3,000 acres under the Water Conservation and Utilization Act of May 10, 1939 (53 Stat. 685). The Glendive Unit and Extension constitute the First Division.
The Shirley, Terry, and Fallon Units of the Second Division were approved by the President on October 11, 1939, as well as a revised plan on May 15, 1940, tinder the Water Conservation and Utilization Program.
Construction of the Glendive Unit, First Division, was initiated in 1937 by the Bureau of Reclamation. The Main Canal and portions of the laterals of this unit were completed in the spring of 1941. In 1942 and 1943, the Farm Security Administration completed the irrigation laterals and necessary concrete structures on the First Division. A third pumping unit at the Glendive Pumping Plant was installed by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1944 to increase the capacity of the pumping plant and furnish irrigation water for an additional 6,000 acres. Glendive Pumping Plant No. 2 for the First Division was completed in 1978. The plant was financed under the Small Reclamation Projects Act of 1956. The pumping plant supplies supplemental irrigation water to the Main Canal to meet peak demand situations.
The Second Division comprises the Shirley, Terry, and Fallon Units along the east bank of the Yellowstone River. Construction of the Second Division began in September 1940 and proceeded, with some delays, throughout World War II, although work on the Fallon Unit did not begin until August 1945. Construction of the Second Division was essentially completed in 1948.
Project soil is fertile and produces a large variety of crops when irrigated. Principal crops produced are alfalfa, sugar beets, beans, flax, potatoes, and wheat.