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Agencies reach agreement over Jackson Lake Dam

Media Contact: Michael Coffey 208-378-5020 mcoffey@usbr.gov
For Release: May 17, 2023

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The State of Wyoming and the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) have reached an agreement on water management operations for the Upper Snake River basin that will avoid impacts to fisheries below the Jackson Lake Dam in Grand Teton National Park.

Atypical snowpack conditions in the southern portions of the upper basin had prompted Reclamation to consider reducing flows from Jackson Lake Dam to store water and reduce flood risks downstream. Hydrologic conditions have developed in such a way that storage levels at Palisades Dam are expected to reach flood management maximums soon, while Jackson Lake’s storage levels are well below flood control space requirements.

“Managing water in the West in light of changing hydrology requires adapting to dynamic water conditions,” said Reclamation Regional Director Jennifer Carrington. “We appreciate our partners and remain committed to working with them on collaborative solutions as we attempt to balance the water needs of interests upstream and down.”

The State of Wyoming will supplement flows to protect the ecosystem and maintain releases at a minimum of 280 cubic feet per second (cfs). Wyoming is committed to using its water storage allocation, up to a maximum of 33,000 acre feet. If necessary, Reclamation has committed to covering any shortfalls should they occur.

Reclamation has pledged to work with Wyoming on a path toward long-term solutions that address Wyoming’s concerns regarding maintaining adequate flows throughout the year and assessing how operations of Jackson Lake impact BOR operations system-wide.

The minimum flow required to maintain the fishery below the dam and maintain water within the world-famous Oxbow Bend is 280 cfs. The 4.5-mile stretch of river below the dam is critical habitat for Snake River cutthroat trout, shore birds, wildlife, and the bluehead sucker — a species of greatest conservation need.

“This stretch of river is iconic and a national treasure. I appreciate Reclamation’s efforts to work with us to find solutions to address our concerns” said Wyoming Game and Fish Director Brian Nesvik. “We look forward to working together to examine water operations and ensure water flows are maintained year-long.”

Any reduction of water flow below the prescribed operation in this area could harm the ecosystem and negatively affect angler opportunities.

“The Wild and Scenic Snake River in Grand Teton National Park provides stunning views, world-class fishing and recreational opportunities and excellent wildlife viewing,” said Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Chip Jenkins. “We appreciate the State of Wyoming and the Bureau of Reclamation’s joint efforts to ensure minimum flows from Jackson Lake Dam to protect these resources and experiences.”

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