BILLINGS, Mont. – The public is reminded that possessing, discharging and using fireworks is strictly prohibited on all Bureau of Reclamation lands and water bodies. These areas consist of multiple reservoirs, surrounding lands, and campgrounds across the state of Montana, including Anita Reservoir, Bighorn Reservoir, Canyon Ferry Reservoir, Clark Canyon Reservoir, Fresno Reservoir, Gibson Reservoir, Helena Valley Reservoir, Nelson Reservoir, Pishkun Reservoir, Tiber Reservoir known locally as Lake Elwell, and Willow Creek.
“Reclamation’s reservoirs often offer excellent recreational activities, but please keep in mind these are working reservoirs, supplying irrigation water to 10 million acres of farmland, delivering more than 10 trillion gallons of water to 30 million people every year, and producing 15% of America’s hydropower, therefore it is important we protect this critical infrastructure,” said Montana Area Manager, Ryan Newman.
According to the National Safety Council, fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and nearly 17,000 other fires. Reclamation expects an increase of visitors during the upcoming holiday weekend, and many reservoir sites will have a heightened presence of law enforcement patrols. Visitors are encouraged to take all water safety precautions, practice patience at congested boat ramp and dock areas, clean up all their trash and litter, and be respectful to other recreationists enjoying public lands.
Below are the projected water levels and releases at most Reclamation-managed reservoirs in eastern Montana for the holiday weekend:
- Clark Canyon Reservoir – All boat ramps are usable. The reservoir is seven feet from full and the river releases are near 300 cubic feet per second.
- Canyon Ferry Reservoir – All boat ramps are usable. The reservoir is at full pool with an elevation of 3,797 feet. River releases are near 8,000 cfs.
- Gibson Reservoir – The reservoir is four feet from full and drafting. River releases are near 130 cfs.
- Lake Elwell (Tiber Reservoir) – All boat ramps are usable. The reservoir is three feet from full pool with a current elevation near 2,990 feet. River releases are 500 cfs.
- Fresno Reservoir – The reservoir is at full pool with an elevation of 2,575 feet. River releases are approximately 375 cfs.
- Nelson Reservoir – The reservoir is at full pool with an elevation of 2,221 feet.
- Bighorn Lake (Yellowtail Dam) – The reservoir’s forecasted elevation will be near 3,650 feet by this weekend – 10 feet into the exclusive flood pool. The top of joint use, or full pool, is 3,640 feet. River releases are scheduled to be held at 16,000 cfs. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has implemented multiple partial site closures at fishing access points. The sites will reopen to vehicle access as soon as conditions allow. For a full list of current FWP site closures and restrictions, visit https://myfwp.mt.gov/fwpPub/allRestrictions.
“Visitors to Reclamation reservoirs and nearby rivers should be mindful of fast-moving and cold water that can pose a potential danger to people recreating in the area,” said Newman. “Please follow water safety recommendations like wearing a life jacket, never swimming alone, checking weather conditions before you go out, and boating sober.”