The Roundup -

Participation Vital For Irrigation Project Public Meetings


When public meetings are held regarding the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project in Sidney June 28 and in Glendive on June 29, people can expect to see more people speaking against the irrigation dam than at previous similar meetings.

In a blog for the Defenders of Wildlife, one of the two national environmental groups wanting to remove the dam, it states, “Working with our partners and with experts on the fish living in these rivers, we are developing a ‘no dam’ alternative for the Corps and the Bureau to consider.”

Blog writer Steve Forrest concludes, “Help us convince the agencies to kill the dam, not the fish. Sign the petition to remove the dam and help us spread the word! The pallid sturgeon has survived cataclysmic changed ¬¬– we can’t let humans bring an end to this species now.”

The meetings start at 5:30 p.m. on June 28 at the Richland County Event Center and on June 29 at the Dawson County High School auditorium in Glendive.

Another public meeting is planned for June 30 in Billings. Area residents are strongly urged to attend that meeting as well.

Leslie Messer, executive director of Richland Economic Development, said an informational meeting will take place on June 21 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Elks Lodge to answer any concerns that residents may have.

“It will give people a chance to hear from community leaders,” Messer said of the June 21 meeting. “These public hearings have never been as critical as they are now.”

Richland Economic Development is arranging for four buses to take area residents from Sidney to the Glendive meeting on June 29. Another bus will leave from Fairview.

“We’re working with Richland Economic Development. It’s a community effort,” David Garland, general manager of Sidney Sugars, said. “It’s vital that we and everybody else get the message out.”

Garland added the decision doesn’t only affect the agriculture community but also all businesses and residents in the area. “It affects everybody.”

James Brower, project manager for the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project, is concerned that many area residents won’t attend the meeting in Glendive and that representatives of environment groups will use the lower attendance to their advantage.

“If we could get the same turnout or more as the last time, we will be fine,” Brower said.

But if people only attend once in Sidney, then politicians who make the funding appropriation decisions might think there’s more support to remove the dam.

The public comment for the Environmental Impact Statement runs until July 18. Comments can be submitted three ways: handwritten or verbal at a public meeting; email: or by mail to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District, Attn: CENWO-PM-AA, 1616 Capitol Avenue, Omaha, Neb., 68102. Each different comment during the public meeting will be placed in the official record.

Area officials are concerned because the two world-wide environmentalist groups have many members who want to remove the dam.

The Corps and Reclamation are serving as joint lead federal agencies in the preparation of the EIS which analyzes six alternatives: no action, rock ramp, bypass channel, modified side channel, multiple pump, and multiple pumps with conservation measures. The Environmental Impact Study has identified the bypass channel alternative as the preferred alternative.

“All the no action means is that Corps won’t have to pay, but the farmers will,” Brower said. He added that the multiple pumps with conservation measures proposal is a negative because it eliminates spilling water into drains that keep creeks flowing all summer long supporting thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and aquatic life.


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