The Roundup -

Intake Diversion Project Faces Injunction Hearing


A group of 27 eastern Montana citizens traveled by bus to demonstrate to the court the critical nature of the Intake diverson project. Pictured L to R: Tony Barone, Greg Anderson, Steve Pust, Don Steinbeisser Jr., Leslie Messer, Kristin Kennedy, Tracy Garland, Kim Nollmeyer, Dale Danielson, Katie Dasinger, Mark Iversen, Conrad Conradsen, Russ Fullmer, Hugo Asbeck, Jerry Bergman, Cody Fulton, Brad Franklin, Cathy Kirkpatrick, Mike Francingues, Shane Gorder, Tim Fine, Wade Whiteman, Doug Voll, Scott Staffanson and Greg Breuer.

On Thursday, Aug. 27 lawyers from the US Bureau of Reclamation, the US Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Army Corps of Engineers and Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project argued the filed temporary injunction on the proposed Intake diversion project with lawyers representing the Defenders of Wildlife and Natural Resources Defense Council in a Great Falls District Courtroom. The Defenders of Wildlife lawyers asked for a "time out" to stall the start of the project which would very likely defund the project and turn the hefty expense over to the irrigators in eastern Montana.

The purpose of the weir diversion project was to address the declining numbers of pallid sturgeon in the Missouri & Yellowstone river systems and comply with the laws established in the Endangered Species Act. The project would provide a man made side channel for the fish to bypass the current weir at Intake in the Yellowstone River which raises the water level to fill the canal system that provides the water to producers in eastern Montana.

The project was a decade in the making and was planned with the cooperation of the Bureau of Reclamation, DNRC, FWP, Army Corp of Engineers and LYIP. The Army Corp of Engineers was to provide the promised funding on Sept 9 with construction to begin at the contractor's discretion. If the Sept 9 deadline is missed the funds would likely be lost to other projects around the nation.

The Defenders of Wildlife contend that more study must be done to ensure the fish will use the man made channel. The lawyers representing the project stated that there is no way to scientifically test if the fish will use the channel until it is built.

District Court Judge Brian Morris will decide whether the injunction has merit. The project managers and eastern Montana irrigators are hoping the decision will be before the Sept. 9 USACE deadline.


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