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The Lyman Project lands are in southwestern Wyoming; however, much of the drainage area and one storage feature are in Utah, just across the Utah-Wyoming state line. The project regulates the flows of Blacks Fork and the East Fork of Smiths Fork for irrigation, municipal and industrial use, fish and wildlife conservation, and recreation.
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The flows of Blacks Fork are regulated by Meeks Cabin Dam and Reservoir. Since 1971, the reservoir has made available a supplemental irrigation supply for 32,474 acres of land. Construction was completed in 1979 on Stateline Dam, located on the East Fork of Smiths Fork, as a replacement for the originally proposed China Meadows Reservoir, which was not approved because of potentially adverse environmental impacts. Water stored in Stateline Reservoir provides supplemental irrigation service for an additional 8,722 acres. Water stored in the two reservoirs is released as needed for irrigation, and distributed along with return flows through existing canal systems. The project also provides municipal and industrial water for Lyman and Mountain View, Wyoming, and surrounding rural areas, as well as fishing and recreation opportunities, and wildlife conservation. Incidental flood control benefits also are realized from the project.
Meeks Cabin Dam, located in Uinta County, about 2 miles north of the Utah-Wyoming state line and 22 miles southwest of Fort Bridger, is a rolled earth and rockfill structure with a height of 184.5 feet above streambed and a crest 3,162 feet long and 30 feet wide. The embankment contains 3,587,000 cubic yards of material. The spillway, with a discharge capacity of 6,250 cubic feet per second, has an uncontrolled concrete overflow crest at elevation 8686.4 feet with a 30 foot wide by 15 foot high rectangular conduit through the dam along the left abutment and a stilling basin at river level. The outlet works is located under the dam along the right abutment and has a maximum discharge capacity of 1,070 cubic feet per second at the maximum water surface elevation of 8699.5 feet. Meeks Cabin Reservoir has a total capacity of 32,470 acre-feet, covering an area of 473 acres.
Stateline Dam, on the East Fork of Smiths Fork within the Wasatch National Forest in Utah, is about 0.5 mile south of the Utah-Wyoming state line. The dam has a height of 148 feet above streambed and a crest length of 2,800 feet. The spillway has a discharge capacity of 5,850 cubic feet per second, an uncontrolled concrete morning glory drop inlet at elevation 9163.2 feet, and a 14.5 foot diameter concrete conduit through the dam along the right abutment with a stilling basin at river level. The outlet works is located under the center of the dam along the stream channel and has a discharge capacity of approximately 400 cubic feet per second at the maximum water surface of 9169.6 feet. Structures along the outlet works include an intake structure, a gate chamber, control house, and stilling basin. Two small earthfill dikes, constructed along the west side of the reservoir basin, have crest lengths of 70 and 130 feet. Each dike is about 10 feet high. Stateline Reservoir has a capacity of 14,000 acre-feet. At maximum water surface elevation, it extends about 1.8 miles upstream from the dam and covers an area of about 300 acres.
The Bridger Valley Water Conservancy District signed contracts with the United States in April 1964 and in October 1976 providing for project operation.
Fort Bridger was established in Wyoming in 1843, on Blacks Fork where the old Oregon and California Trails joined. This fort was operated as a small post for trade with western immigrants, and became one of the first public inns and stores west of the Missouri River. Land holdings for cattle raising were acquired by settlers around the fort after it was garrisoned as a military outpost in 1858. In 1862, production of grass hay through small irrigation diversions from Blacks Fork, began so feed could be supplied to garrisoned livestock and stock moving with the wagon trains.
The livestock industry expanded rapidly after 1862 as new settlements were established along Blacks Fork and Smiths Fork, and it soon became necessary for livestock feed to be grown for winter use to supplement the open range. Cooperative irrigation organizations began with the formation of the Fort Bridger and Blacks Fork Canal companies in 1891, soon followed by other canal companies. Irrigation farming increased until about 1920, when it became apparent that the dependable summer streamflows had been over appropriated. Several land tracts irrigated before 1920 were later abandoned because of insufficient irrigation water. The relatively small populations of Lyman, Mountain View, Fort Bridger, and adjoining areas remained stable from about 1940 to 1973. However, population increased about 75 percent in 1973-1975, primarily as a result of mining and construction activity in Sweetwater County.
The undeveloped irrigation possibilities of the Green River Basin, including the Lyman area, were the subject of intermittent study for more than 40 years. The Bureau of Reclamation studied the area in 1919, 1933, and 1944. The results of the 1944 study were incorporated in a report on the Colorado River in 1946. The basin development report was followed by studies in 1950; the latest study, in 1962, outlined the project for development.
Pre-construction activities for China Meadows Reservoir were essentially completed in January 1970, when it became necessary to postpone further work on the reservoir because of environmental concerns. After distribution of the draft environmental statement in January 1972 and a public hearing in April 1972, the Bureau of Reclamation, in cooperation with other Federal and state agencies, evaluated all practicable alternative sites on the basis of economic and environmental effects. The Stateline site was found to be the most attractive from both standpoints. The final environmental impact statement was filed with the Council on Environmental Quality on December 8, 1975.
The project was authorized as one of the initial participating projects of the Colorado River Storage Project by the act of April 11, 1956 (70 Stat. 105).
Construction on Meeks Cabin Dam began in 1966 with award of contract for building the dam and access road. The dam was completed early in 1971, and water storage was initiated in 1971. Construction on Stateline Dam began in 1977, and was completed in 1979.
The additional late-season irrigation water provided by the project, increases the yields of forage and grain crops to bolster the local livestock industry. The water supply to the area served by Meeks Cabin Reservoir has made possible a regrowth of pasture after haying, and the production of feed grains on the same land that previously yielded only native grass. Hay, alfalfa, barley, and oats are the principal crops.
A municipal and industrial water supply of 1,500 acre-feet a year is available from Stateline Reservoir for the towns of Lyman and Mountain View and surrounding rural areas.
Facilities to enhance recreation and fishing opportunities are provided at both Meeks Cabin and Stateline Reservoirs. Measures for fishery enhancement are provided in the streams below the reservoirs. Provisions have been made to mitigate losses to fish and wildlife from the reservoir developments. Recreational activities at Meeks Cabin Reservoir are administered by the Forest Service. Visitor days to Meeks Cabin Reservoir during 1996 totaled 9,350. Visitor days to Stateline Reservoir during 1996 totaled 1,750.
Incidental flood protection will be realized at both reservoirs. Although there is no specific reservoir capacity assigned for flood control, the Lyman Project has provided an accumulated $24,000 in flood control benefits from 1950 to 1999.