The Roundup -

Irrigation Project Threatened Again

Buses leave at 5:30 a.m. Monday, June 19th for Great Falls Hearing


Pictured is the current weir and headwaters at intake.

Once again, our farmers and communities are threatened by the Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resources Defense Council. In a brief filed with District Court, those plaintiffs are not only asking for another injunction against the construction of the concrete weir and fish bypass, they are also asking that the entire dam be removed from the Yellowstone River, in order to protect the pallid sturgeon.

The plaintiffs are not only directly contesting the previous NEPA and ESA analysis of the bypass project, but the very existence of the diversion, and its operation and maintenance as it has existed for more than a century.

The Intake Diversion project was created by Congress under the Reclamation Act of 1902, with the mandate that it be built and maintained.

The LYIP response to the plaintiffs' motion specifically cites the act which stated that, "when it shall be necessary to construct dams in or across the Yellowstone River in the State of Montana, the Secretary of the Interior is hereby authorized to construct and use and operate the same in the manner and for the purposes contemplated by said reclamation act." The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 is also satisfied since the dam was authorized by Congress.

The construction of the Intake Diversion project over 100 years ago turned an arid landscape into an oasis with productive farmland, prosperous communities and habitat for all kinds of wildlife.

The project protects and enhances our drinking water, provides a stable tax base, creates business and employment opportunities all along the valley and far beyond. The current system of water delivery is the most environmentally sound, cost effective option. The proposal by the plaintiffs for pumps along an open river is cost prohibitive and an environmental disaster.

Everyone is busy at this time of the year. However, continued strong support of the irrigation project is critical. Mass attendance at the hearing in Great Falls on Monday, June 19th will continue to show the judge that irrigation, and the new weir and fish bypass are essential to our farmers and our communities.

Buses will start loading at 5 a.m. and leave from the MSU-EARC building north of Sidney promptly at 5:30 a.m. Beverages and food will be provided. Please contact Richland Economic Development at 406-482-4679 to reserve your space.

Anyone wishing to drive to Great Falls and attend the hearing at 1:30 p.m. is also encouraged to do so.


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