U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Public Comments on Egge Diversion Dam Removal, Golden Valley County, Montana
For Immediate Release
August 27, 2015
LAKEWOOD, Colo. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking public comment on a draft environmental assessment (DEA) for the State of Montana’s proposal to remove a diversion dam and create a new 120 foot wide channel in the Mussleshell River in Golden Valley County. Flooding in 2011 damaged and breached the edge of the Egge Diversion Dam and created a new 120 foot wide channel around the structure. Prior to the flood, the dam was a barrier to fish passage and was a source of water for an irrigation canal. The new river channel was carved into adjacent agricultural land. Public comments on are welcome for a 20-day period which ends September 15, 2015.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) working with two affected private landowners proposes to remove the Egge Diversion Dam to restore natural flow patterns and bank lines of the Musselshell River while maintaining fish passage. The Egge Diversion and associated canal system water rights were established February 10, 1902 to irrigate 146.60 acres of land with a maximum canal flow rate of 15cfs from April 15th to October 19th annually. The dam, according to area landowners, was originally a beaver willow dam that was subsequently covered in concrete at various times for repair leading to its current condition.The surrounding land use is primarily irrigated agriculture and grazing.
Diversion dams such as the Egge Diversion Dam can restrict fish movement and habitat selection for aquatic organisms. The dam in its current state acts as a jetty and continues to cause unnecessary erosion of adjacent private land. It is an impediment to debris and ice flow and can create potential flood hazards in its current condition. FWP Statewide Fisheries Management Plan 2013-2018 identified diversion structures as a major fish habitat concern and opportunities for removal should be investigated (FWP 2013). A team of river specialists collectively known as the River Assessment Triage Team (RATT) reviewed flood damages in 2011 at many sites. This diversion was one of the site visits. The subsequent report and recommendations identified this diversion was a good candidate for removal with development of pump sites (RATT 2011).
State Wildlife Grant program regulations require the FWP to request Service approval prior to receiving grant funds. The Service’s decision to approve or disapprove the proposed removal of the diversion dam constitutes a federal action subject to the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended, and requires the Service to prepare a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to analyze the effects of the proposed action. We have prepared this DEA and are providing it for public review and comment pursuant to NEPA requirements.
Copies of the draft EA are available online by clicking on the title of the doucment at: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/wsfr/nepa.php. Those without internet access may request copies by calling the Service's Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program at 303-236-8165. Comments will be accepted until September 15, 2015 and should be sent to: Chief, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver, Colorado 80225.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service.
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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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Eddie N. Bennett