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Feds Triple Flows on Bighorn Just Two Weeks After Cutting Them

Posted on May 26 2008

In a reversal of policy that some say is too little too late, the Bureau of Reclamation went from cutting water flows during a critical spawning period to tripling them in order to release excess water only two weeks later. “The Bureau of Reclamation will increase water flows into the Bighorn River beginning late Friday, as rain and snowmelt raise the level of Bighorn Lake. Bureau Area Manager Dan Jewell says flows into the river along the Montana-Wyoming border will be stepped up over the next three days, to 4,500 cubic feet per second.” Mark Henckel covers the policy changes in the Billings Gazette: “‘What I’ve been telling people is that our flow requests are based on maintaining the side channel habitat,’ [Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Ken] Frazer said. ‘At 2,500 cfs, most of the side channels are in good shape. The 2,000 was our drought level minimums. When you start dropping below that, you really start dewatering them.'”

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