The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation co-hosted an official ribbon cutting ceremony in July to celebrate the completion of the fish bypass channel and structural weir components to the Lower Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam project near Glendive, Montana. The dam supplies irrigation water to the area, providing a vital natural source to the public, ranchers, and farmers in the region. The celebration also acknowledged Reclamation’s 120th anniversary.
“The main purpose of the bypass channel is to help protect the pallid sturgeon and their recovery since they’re an endangered species. And help them to move upstream for spawning and other purposes,” Carlie Hively, USACE, Omaha District project manager said. “We were able to use a high level of engineering to not only satisfy the local community, but also bring the aquatic ecosystem back to a more natural state.”
Among those attending the ceremony included distinguished guests, the public and media representatives.
Col. Geoff Van Epps, Commander, USACE Northwestern Division was one of serval guest speakers.
“I speak for the Corps of Engineers when I say that we are all proud of the important civil works achievement that we celebrate today,” Van Epps said. “And, when I say we, I’m referring to the Omaha District team, led by Col. Mark Himes, as well as staff and leadership from our northwestern division, who have supported the Omaha District’s efforts over this project’s long history.”
Other guest speakers included Matt Rosendale, Montana State Representative; Tanya Trujillo, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science; M. Camille Calimlim Touton, USBR Commissioner; and Steve Small, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Assistant Regional Director for Ecological Services for the Mountain-Prairie Region.
Completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District in approximately 36 months, at a cost of approximately $44 million, this project could not have been accomplished without the partnership of other agencies. USACE and the USBR invested more than 10 years into making sure the project was successful. This important civil works project will positively impact the environment and local population.
“It’s been awesome working hand in hand with the Bureau of Reclamation to design, construct, and deliver a project that really benefits the pallid sturgeon and other native species,” Hively said.
As a culmination to the ceremony, each guest speaker released a young pallid sturgeon into the river near the entrance to the new bypass channel. To date, more than a twenty sturgeon have been observed using the new channel, indicating an increase in population numbers for this endangered species.
The Lower Yellowstone Project is a 58,000-acre irrigation project located in eastern Montana and western North Dakota. The project is operated and maintained by the Lower Yellowstone Irrigation District Board of Control under contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
For more information on the event, check out our video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Miqu_HVQj4Y; or visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OmahaUSACE.