News Release Archive

Record of Decision Signed for Lower Yellowstone Fish Passage Project

Media Contact: Omaha District PAO, (402) 995-2417, 12/05/2016 09:05
Tyler Johnson, (406) 247-7609, tjohnson@usbr.gov

For Release: December 05, 2016

An aerial view of the Lower Yellowstone original diversion works adjacent to the dam and the new fish screens and diversion upstream.
An aerial view of the Lower Yellowstone original diversion works adjacent to the dam and the new fish screens and diversion upstream.
BILLINGS, Mont. -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and Bureau of Reclamation signed a Record of Decision (ROD) today for the Lower Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam Fish Passage Project selecting the Bypass Channel Alternative and associated Adaptive Management and Monitoring Plan (AMP) for implementation.

"Signing the ROD is the final step in the process that highlights the efforts of so many people," said Col. John W Henderson, Omaha District commander for the Corps. "This is a positive step forward in getting this project off the ground."

Reclamation and the Corps selected the Bypass Channel Alternative because it best meets the purpose and need of improving pallid sturgeon fish passage and ecosystem restoration while continuing viable and effective operations of the Lower Yellowstone Project.

This alternative involves constructing a 15,500-foot long bypass channel from the upper end of the existing side channel, to just downstream of the existing diversion dam.

"The Bypass Channel Alternative provides the best opportunity for fish and farms to coexist," said Reclamation's Great Plains Regional Director Mike Ryan. "I also would like to recognize the Army Corps of Engineers commitment of resources and seeing the process through for the people of Montana and North Dakota."

The Bypass Channel Alternative is expected to improve pallid sturgeon passage at Intake Diversion Dam and contribute to ecosystem restoration. At the same time, while an increase in operations and maintenance costs is expected, it is not anticipated to disrupt operation of the Lower Yellowstone Project.

"The Service is encouraged by the Corps and Reclamation decision," said Noreen Walsh, Mountain-Prairie Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "This is a positive outcome of many years of project evaluation, planning, and close coordination across many agencies and private interests."

Construction of the approximately $57 million Bypass Channel project will be funded and managed by the Corps of Engineers and is expected to begin as early as the spring of 2017 and take approximately 28 months to complete. The Corps and Reclamation will implement the AMP beginning in 2017. The Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project Board of Control will be responsible for the long term operation and maintenance of the project and for certain aspects of the AMP.

The Intake Diversion Dam is located 70-miles upstream from the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers near Glendive, Montana. It is a feature of the Lower Yellowstone Project which provides irrigation water to approximately 55,000 acres in eastern Montana and Western North Dakota.

To view the ROD and other associated documents, please visit: www.usbr.gov/gp/mtao/loweryellowstone/

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at https://www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

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