More questions than answers

Submitted by Jim Liner
Posted 4/27/21

Dear Editor:

It was with vested interest that I read the article in the April 13 Tribune about the move toward sediment solutions behind Willwood Dam and the Shoshone River drainage.

As I read …

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More questions than answers

Posted

Dear Editor:

It was with vested interest that I read the article in the April 13 Tribune about the move toward sediment solutions behind Willwood Dam and the Shoshone River drainage.

As I read the list of government agencies, local entities and unknown groups involved within Group 2, I failed to see anyone or any agency that has anything to do with Bighorn Reservoir! I would think that since this reservoir is the final resting place for all of the sediment, residual nitrates, herbicides, insecticides, etc., from the Shoshone River and Bighorn River drainages, they should be involved.

Myself and the many other anglers who fish this body of water know that the sediment released five years ago has not settled out from Horseshoe Bend to the Devils Canyon area. The article also stated that a study is still ongoing in regards to the many tributaries that dump into the Shoshone River. However, we all know little can be done to economically harness what Mother Nature dishes out.

Those of us who have called this valley home for all or most of our lives know that farming is the lifeblood of this area, and we also know that it has been an economic challenge for them in recent years. That being said, they are the only ones doing anything to help this problem through the installation of center pivot irrigation systems. The other bright spot, if you want to call it that, is the amount of farmland being subdivided for housing.

It was also interesting to note that it is apparently OK in the eyes of everyone involved to flush sediment from the spawning area of one fish species and move it to an area where it is deteriorating the habitat of another species, i.e. walleyes. The article also noted that the flush was timed when the river flow was at a minimum and not interfering with the spring and fall trout spawning. However, the lake level is 19 feet below full pool, thus there is no lake on this end to act as a buffer to slow down and deposit the sediment, allowing it to flow miles down the lake before it drops out or remains suspended as it has been.

We as a group of anglers know that the Wyoming Game and Fish is using the declining habitat in the Wyoming end of the reservoir as one of their reasons for not stocking walleyes in Wyoming. Is all of this the answer to protecting fish and recreation downstream? I think not! There are a huge number of problems and I doubt any of them will be completely solved due to the economics involved, let’s just be honest with the public and tell the whole story.

Jim Liner

Powell

Big Horn Basin Chapter of

Walleyes Unlimited of Montana

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