Saturday, September 01, 2007

Feelin' a little froggy...

This week I spent a couple of days touring the lower portion of theYellowstone River with a group of conservationists who are trying to determine the best way to manage this incredible resource.

The Yellowstone is an amazing river; it is over 670 miles long which makes it the longest free flowing river in the lower 48 states. Originating in Yellowstone National Park, it drains over 70,000 miles of land before it reaches the Missouri River.

It is also home to the Pallid Sturgeon. This armor plated, bewhiskered relic of the Jurassic Era, is native to the Yellowstone, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, but its stronghold, if you can call it that, is in eastern Montana and western North Dakota. Pallids grow up to 5 foot long and can weigh up to 60 pounds. Fish biologists believe that there are fewer than 200 Pallids left in existance and that most of the fertile females were teenagers during the Eisenhower administration.

Listed as an endangered species in 1990, conservationists have been scrambling to determine why the population of Pallids is dwindling so rapidly. What they have determined is that various irrigation structures placed in the rivers have made it impossible for the Pallids to reach vital spawning grounds in the Yellowstone River.

The group that I traveled with is committed to finding a solution to this problem.

Our first stop was at Intake, near Sidney, MT. Intake is an irrigation diversion on the Yellowstone River. It provides irrigation water for farmers in eastern Montana and part of North Dakota. This structure provides irrigation to 52, 133 acres of land via a 71.6 mile canal. It is also one of the problematic structures blocking the Pallids from their spawning grounds. At this stop we listened to the US Army Corp of Engineers and various other government entities discuss potential solutions to this problem.

Below are some photos I took during this fun filled, but educational day

Do you see him hidden in there?
Here's a cropped picture of the little feller.

What's everybody lookin' at?
A shark's tooth embedded in a rock!
This photo is of the irrigation diversion.

I climbed up on top of a bluff to get a work photo and noticed that the view to the north was rather beautiful, so I took a shot of it too.

Tomorrow or Monday I'll post more pictures from the trip. Until then I'll leave you with a picture of the sunset I had the pleasure to witness on Thursday night.

I'm having blogger formatting issues, so please excuse the picture placement.


KGMom said...

Your job sounds both challenging and most interesting. Hope you can find a solution to the problem.
The scenery looks lovely too and the sunset shot is perfect.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

What a fabulous adventure, Laurie! I seem to be writing this more and more these days, but I truly wish I had been with you.

Anvilcloud said...

Great to see the fossil, and I really like the last two photos. Great sunset.

Gina said...

Amazing how nature developed some animals to be so perfectly camoflaged, it never ceases to boggle me!

Laurie said...

KG, it is a fantastic job. I really love it.

Nick, I wish you had been here as well. It was a splendid adventure.

AC, I took that photo while I was on a date, if you can imagine. Good thing he's a great guy who dotes on me, eh?

Gina, I nearly stepped on the little guy, that's how well he was hidden.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

We mess with rivers at our peril. There always seem to be a price to pay and Nature pays it.

The sturgeon in our area was overfished. It was a very lucrative fishery a hundred years ago, with caviar being sent around the World. There are restocking efforts going one to help in the recovery.

Ur-spo said...

your photos look lovely; it seems there is some lovely area up there still after all.

Laurie said...

Tossing, I completely agree with you. We do things to our rivers with little or no thought to the cummulative effects. We need to put much more thought into the decisions we make.

Ur-spo, eastern Montana is pretty much untouched, so far. Western Montana is another story.

Mary said...


First, I gotta comment on that sunset. WOW!

Now I know why you love your job. Really. You are a very blessed woman to be involved in a job that leads you to incredible views.

From Mary Bored with Paperwork

Mama P said...

I had never heard of a pallid until today. Life is very connected, because tonight I watched a Modern Marvels which spoke of evolution and species dying out. Beautiful, beautiful photos. I can't wait to see more.

NatureWoman said...

Very interesting facts that I didn't know! Thanks for sharing them with us. And of course, your photos are gorgeous. Ribbet!

Cathy said...

Laurie - This is so interesting. As I was reading your description of the pallid sturgeon I was thinking it had to be a joke - that it just didn't sound real. Why haven't we heard about this critter before? Very very interesting.

You're on a neat adventure there. Cool.

Beautiful sunset :0)

Dave said...

Great shots and great work the rewards must be wonderful.

Cooth said...

What great pictures!! Love the fossil!

A long, long time ago - way back in the 70's I was at the Sidney intake to watch some people paddle fishing - Wow - what an experience!!

thailandchani said...

I haven't been there in several years.. but it's impossible to forget all that beauty! :)



Anonymous said...

WOW! Those are so cool. One would have never thought there were creatures still alive from that day and age.(other than my dad)You take the most beautiful pictures. I hope you had a great time.

Pink said...

Gorgeous sunset.

Good work you are doing!! You are always an inspiration.

Squirl said...

That last picture just blew me away!

seventh sister said...

I love your posts about the Yellowstone, the bear, and Deadwood. I saw Deadwood in the late '60s or early 70's when I was a kid. I got to go back to Yellowstone in '99 but haven't seen Deadwood again. I don't think I want to. I saw if befor the casinos and the fire. I think I want to remember it that way.

I also saw a lot of bear in Yellowstone the first time and not a one the second. A lot of the geotherma features had changed as well.