The Lower Yellowstone Project diverts water from the Yellowstone River approximately 70 miles upstream from the mouth. The project consists of Intake diversion dam (a 12-foot high wood and stone structure that spans the Yellowstone River), headworks, main canal and laterals which irrigate approximately 55,000 acres on 500 farms in eastern Montana and western North Dakota. Bureau of Reclamation began construction of the Lower Yellowstone Project in 1905.
The Corps is a joint lead agency for the Intake Dam Modification Project because Section 3109 of the 2007 Water Resources Development Act authorizes the Corps to use funding from the Missouri River Recovery Program to assist Reclamation with compliance with federal laws, design, and construction of modifications to the Lower Yellowstone Project for the purpose of ecosystem restoration.
Intake Diversion Dam likely has impeded upstream migration of the endangered pallid sturgeon and other native fish for more than 100 years. In addition, monitoring indicates that an average of 500,000 fish of 36 species are annually entrained into the main irrigation canal.
The proposed federal action would modify Intake Diversion Dam and main canal headworks to improve passage for endangered pallid sturgeon and other native fish in the lower Yellowstone River and reduce entrainment of fish into the Lower Yellowstone Project main canal while still delivering the full water right to the Lower Yellowstone Project. The Corps and Bureau of Reclamation signed a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Lower Yellowstone Intake Diversion Dam Fish Passage Project selecting the Bypass Channel Alternative and associated Adaptive Management and Monitoring Plan for implementation. Please see the news release for more information. Please see the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation website to view the ROD and associated documents.