It took decades to research the logistics, acquire the funding and do the work, but the bypass channel around Intake Diversion Dam on the lower Yellowstone River appears to be working well. Despite some damage from high flows last spring that have to be repaired, the channel weathered its first big test. It also allowed at least 22 endangered pallid sturgeon to move upstream. This is important to provide additional river miles in hopes the fish can successfully reproduce in the wild. It’s been more than 100 years since the dam was built, so wild fish are rare. Instead, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with other state and federal agencies has introduced hatchery-raised fish to keep the species from dying out. It may be years before biologists find out if the upstream access to the Powder and Tongue rivers is enough distance. In the past, other diversion dams along the river were also eyed for fish passage to help the species, as well as other native fish, move throughout the Yellowstone. As part of the pallid sturgeon research, biologists have asked that no paddlefish snagging be allowed in the channel. The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the request last week. For more, see my story at https://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/endangered-pallid-sturgeon-utilize-new-yellowstone-river-bypass-channel/article_6352b298-b6ea-11ed-886d-1f209b2817b8.html.
Written by Brett French | Outdoors Editor | Billings Gazette