Friday, November 17, 2006

Tongue River Fish By-Pass

Over the past 125 years, irrigation diversion dams in the Yellowstone River system have prevented most warm-water fish from reaching their traditional spawning and rearing habitat. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologists say the result has been a major decline in the populations of these species, including the endangered pallid sturgeon, which no longer spawns in the lower Yellowstone.
Now a determined eastern Montana farmer, whose family has managed one of these dams since 1935, is leading the way to make his dam more fish-friendly. Roger Muggli (in bibs and blue shirt) is backed by The Nature Conservancy and by the irrigation district he heads, as well as several state and federal agencies, which are providing financial and technical support.
Ladders for fish species like trout and salmon don’t work for warm-water fish, which swim around, rather than over, obstacles. So the project partners are building a fish-bypass canal around the 12-Mile Dam on the Tongue River, a major tributary of the Yellowstone. The canal, targeted for completion in spring 2007, will help at least seven species of warm-water fish regain access to almost 50 miles of their native spawning habitat. Meanwhile, the dam will continue to divert irrigation water to about 300 farm families and 9,400 acres of thirsty crops.


Courtney said...

A very, very cool post! With all of the controversy over 'environmentalism' here in Montana, this illustrates a very reasonable balance that benefits animals and people!

dmmgmfm said...

Thanks Courtney. Since conservation is my business, I found it very interesting myself. Roger Muggli is a very interesting, passionate guy and without him, it never would have been possible. We need hundreds more like him in the world!