The Roundup -

Show Your Support for Irrigation This Week

 


Your support, whether in person or by written comment, is vital to ensure the continuation of irrigation and the economic vitality of our community.

Even though this issue should be cut and dried, it is not.

Public meetings and comment will determine whether the proposed fish friendly concrete weir and fish bypass at Intake are approved to begin construction. Federal agencies and state leaders are actively analyzing the level of public support vs protest. There will be opposition shown at the meeting in Glendive and political leaders including Montana Governor Bullock are “watching it closely”.

The public meeting in Glendive will take place at 6 pm, Wednesday, April 23 at the Dawson County High School. Bus transportation has been secured from Fairview and Sidney. The bus will start loading in Fairview at 4 pm and leave promptly at 4:15. Busses will then start loading passengers in Sidney at 4:30 and leave promptly at 5 pm to go to Glendive. Footers sandwiches courtesy of Agri Industries, and bottled water will be provided for riders.

The Sidney public meeting is scheduled for 6 pm Thursday, April 24 at the Sidney High School. Your support at one or both of the meetings is critical.

“My heart stopped when I read the article (The Roundup, April 9),” Richland Economic Development executive director Leslie Messer said. “I’m from this valley and even though we’re non-irrigators, I can’t imagine this valley without the irrigation project. From an economic standpoint, this whole end of the state of Montana and North Dakota would suffer great, unimaginable losses. The Corps has the money now to fund a reliable way to protect the endangered species, improve opportunities for water recreation, and get reliable water to growers. It’s a win-win situation. By not being actively involved in the public meetings, we could be one step closer to another Klamath Falls. And, if they’re successful in stopping LYIP, why not Buffalo Rapids and any other project in the country?”

Messer immediately started doing background research on LYIP, and reaching out to members of RED to inform them of the situation. In cooperation with LYIP general manager James Brower, RED was able to facilitate an informational meeting which was very well attended. Messer and many others are doing their utmost to inform the public of the situation.

The potential impacts created by the loss of reliable irrigation are far reaching. Farmers, agri-businesses and research at the NPARL and MSU-EARC would be immediately affected. Since the bountiful Yellowstone valley produces food for the entire country, food prices would ultimately rise. Any company, no matter where they’re located, that supplies materials used in the production or processing of our crops would also be impacted. The ripple effect would ultimately be felt throughout the country.

Other potential long term problems include a diminished county tax base which sees valuable irrigated land turned into dryland that is taxed accordingly. Irrigation water has kept the water table high, providing water for shallow sand point wells, plus it has fed the aquifer which supplies groundwater. What happens to our water supplying wells if irrigation goes away?

The money is in place now to comply with the Endangered Species Act, enhance boating opportunities and provide reliable irrigation water. The new plan has been extensively evaluated, tested and upgraded by the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, LYIP, and other government entities.

The information letter sent by LYIP last week explained the urgency of the situation. “The negotiated design is the best (and last) opportunity for the federal government to pay for the federally required fish passage. The $35 million that the Corps has allocated for this project is only available through fiscal year 2014. If the agencies involved cannot reach an agreement this year, those dollars will be awarded to other projects and the Intake diversion project will revert back to the Bureau of Reclamation. From then on, local irrigators will be financially responsible for achieving a fish bypass, or suffer the loss of their irrigation water and the stability it brings to our communities.”

If you can not attend one of the public meetings, please express your support of the fish friendly concrete weir and mandatory fish bypass by mailing or dropping off a signed letter to Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project, 2327 Lincoln Ave. S.E., Sidney, MT 59270. You may also email your support to sha-MYA-LYI@usbr.gov. The comment period ends April 30, 2014.

 

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