Let’s go water skiing!

Memorial Day arrived to very cold temperatures, and a steady rain. Thanks to the steadfast efforts of BOR, boats could safely launch at Horseshoe Bend as the lake level was a couple of feet higher than the minimum boat launch level of 3,617ft.Reports indicate nearly 4 boats launched at Horsehoe Bend this weekend, although reports of someone actually water skiing have not been confirmed.Four boats. Four boats for an entire age class of brown trout. Nice job, guys. Keep up the good work.

Flows to be increased

FWP May 23, 2008 Reclamation to Increase Releases from Yellowtail DamThe Bureau of Reclamation will be increasing releases to the Bighorn River from Yellowtail Dam beginning late Friday, May 23. Releases will be stepped-up from the current rate of 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) to approximately 4,500 cfs over a three day period. The increases are necessary to help control the rate-of-fill of Yellowtail Reservoir (Bighorn Lake). Inflows to Yellowtail were averaging approximately 8,000 cfs on Friday and based on the National Weather Service streamflow forecast, similar or higher inflows can be expected over the next few days. Further adjustments to releases during the next few weeks are likely depending on inflow conditions. Bighorn River recreationists are cautioned to be aware of changing flow conditions during this time. ——– Like we’ve said before, this is lunacy. We have to continue to lobby BOR for an operating plan that allows us to have more consistent flows, stops killing trout, and provides for concessions from BOTH ends of the lake in drought periods. Thanks to our friends at FWP, we’ve discovered that Hungry Horse and Koocanusa reservoirs manage their water based on a sliding scale model, where target lake elevations are variables instead of must-meet, die-hard, carved in stone, absolutes. With corresponding increases in draw-down levels to provide winter storage and make the lake easier to fill in the spring, the lake can be managed to provide adequate downstream flows year-round, while also maintaining lake elevations that satisfy all stakeholders. Friends of the Bighorn River, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, our Montana Senatorial delegation, and Montana Trout Unlimited have asked or will ask BOR to take a hard look at this model, and BOR has agreed. Better yet, a few of the folks in Lovell whom we’ve spoken to are receptive provided the science is there to back it up, and now it is.

Browns get death sentence

Today, the Bureau of Reclamation, supported by our neighbors in Lovell, Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal and Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area decided to reduce flows from 1,900cfs to 1,500cfs, effectively leaving most of the brown spawn high and dry.Incredibly, with snowpack well over 115% of average, and lots and lots and lots of water on the way, BOR feels they are in danger of filling Bighorn Lake in time for Memorial Day.To add insult to injury, its raining hard today, and forecasts indicate the rains will continue.How much longer will BOR ask Bighorn River users to sacrifice to get lake levels back where BOR wants them? When will enough water really be enough?In just a few weeks, runoff will begin in full force. We’ll see if BOR ‘s decision to conserve water was justified.