There’s a week left for public comment on a proposal to remove a dam on the Yellowstone river, with the goal of preventing the extinction of the pallid sturgeon. Two federal agencies are working on an Environmental Impact Statement on the proposal.
Steve Forrest with Defenders of Wildlife says the Intake Diversion Dam near Glendive blocks the endangered pallid sturgeon from accessing its breeding grounds.
"The operations of the dams clearly inhibit the ability of the sturgeon to reproduce in the modern world," Forrest said.
The pallid sturgeon has survived for millennia, but has been unable to reproduce in the wild for decades because of the dam. It’s estimated that 125 wild bred adult sturgeon are still in the Yellowstone River.
The Intake Dam supplies water to several hundred farms, most of them growing sugar beets and barley.
One idea is to build a new, higher, concrete dam and dig a side channel for the sturgeon. But Forrest says the fish have a history of rejecting man-made solutions.
"They ought to just take the dam out and put in pumps," says Forrest. "That provides full river access for the sturgeon. It’s complicated, but for an endangered species, it’s worth it.”
The public comment period ends February 18. Comment here: http://www.usbr.gov/gp/mtao/loweryellowstone/EIS/public_comment_form.pdf