The Roundup -

Community Celebrates LYIP Court Victory


December 26, 2018 | View PDF

LYIP Attorney Mark Stermitz speaks at the community picnic.

The Community celebrated the long awaited Lower Yellowstone Irrigation Project's court victory with a parade and picnic in August. With the LYIP attorney as parade marshal, and anything from horses to huge farm equipment constituting the entries, growers, businesses, and the public celebrated the end of a very, very long battle.

It had been 13 years since the Bureau of Reclamation, the State of Montana, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nature Conservancy signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaboratively address the pallid sturgeon issue on the Yellowstone River.

One of the LYIP floats in the parade had a sign reading "You supported the bypass, you saved the farmers, the businesses and the valley."

The favorable court ruling in the lawsuit filed by the Defenders of Wildlife and the Natural Resource Defense Council came as a result of science, facts, and community support unseen anywhere in the country. From the first public hearings on the Intake project in 2014, to the last district court hearing in Great Falls April 18, 2018, support grew and grew with busloads, and carloads, of people traveling to show their support.

On July 20, District Court Judge Brian Morris issued a summary judgment, ruling in favor of the Intake Diversion Project, and allowing construction to begin.

The project involves developing a fish bypass and constructing a concrete weir on the Yellowstone River to replace the 109 year old one, and enable the pallid sturgeon and other species to navigate the river and spawn. The contract was awarded to Ames Construction for just under $35 million. The company is now waiting for notice to proceed.

LYIP manager James Brower expressed his deepest appreciation to the community for its overwhelming support. "We couldn't have done it without you," he said.


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