Small temporary bump to 12,600cfs

This just arrived arrived from Reclamation:The BIA is planning to reduce diversions to the Bighorn Canal by 200 cfs to allow them to chemically treat the heavy algae growth in the Bighorn Canal. In response and continue slowing the rate of fill of storage in Bighorn Lake, the following operation change is required. Recent flow measurements also indicate river flows are actually higher than anticipated, resulting in a 0.0 shift. Releases to the Bighorn River will be gradually increased to near 12,600 cfs and maintained at rates necessary to maintain daily generation at Yellowtail powerplant near 250 MW-Hrs/day and the Afterbay level near elevation 3190.In layman’s terms, look for releases to increase in 50cfs increments to approximately 12,600cfs today. and then decrease in 50cfs increments back to 12,400cfs tomorrow.

Some details emerge…

A few scattered details are starting to emerge about yesterday’s photo sent in by guide David Palmer.The boat went down near the Snag Hole, just below Three Mile access. According to long time guide Bob Krumm, had guide Eric Wilcox not witnessed the incident and come quickly to the boaters aid, it was only a matter of seconds before they would have drowned. While exact details aren’t clear yet, it is believed the occupants attempted to drop anchor in fast water and swamped the boat. We are reminded of Krumm’s two rescues in two days last year that both could have had catastrophic outcomes if not for some quick thinking and hard rowing.It goes without saying that the Bighorn River is fortunate to have a cadre of guides that are not only talented and superb stewards of the river, but thoughtful and concerned citizens. Hat’s off to these folks that go above and beyond an already tough job!Guides are reminding folks to navigate your boat to stay well clear of hazards (including the bank), keep the bow of the boat pointed downstream especially in fast or rough water, and not drop anchor in fast and/or deep water.

Boys survive dunking in Bighorn Rapids

According to sources on and near the Bighorn River, two teenage anglers in a john boat entered the Bighorn Rapids yesterday but only their boat came out the bottom end. Apparently, the lads’ boat swamped in the huge swells and sent the boys swimming. Both made it to shore in one piece, safely hitchhiked home, and were later seen celebrating their good fortune.Guides on the river report Bighorn Rapids need special attention these days, and may not be recommended for low-sided boats. The standing waves and rollers come at the boat from all angles, so extreme caution is recommended. Novice oarsmen should remember to always keep the bow of the boat pointed downstream when entering rapids, and not let the boat travel faster than the current so as to ride the waves rather than hit them. The higher flows are also creating obstructions in the river that may not have been present the day before. Again, novice oarsmen should keep the bow of the boat pointed directly at any obstructing or element they wish to avoid, so as to quickly and easily back row away from it.For the latest information on fishing and river conditions, contact one of the many fine fly shops in the Ft. Smith area.

Grant Marsh FAS Closed

via Montana Fish, Wildlife and ParksHigh water closes Bighorn River fishing access site BILLINGS – The Grant Marsh Fishing Access Site on the Bighorn River north of Hardin closed to all traffic Wednesday because of high river levels. It will remain closed until the water level subsides and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials can assess damages.Water flowing down the Bighorn River has washed out part of the entrance road and inundated the interior roads, parking lot, latrine and boat launch, making any use of the park hazardous.As of late Tuesday, the federal Bureau of Reclamation was releasing more than 12,481 cubic feet of water per second (cfs) into the Bighorn River from Yellowtail Dam. In 2008, releases peaked at 10,000 cfs in mid-June and, during the 2007 drought year, releases never exceeded 2,500 cfs. Before the current spring releases started in April, the river was flowing at about 2,500 cfs. Bureau of Reclamation officials said Tuesday – during a scheduled conference call with interested agencies, officials and groups – that they intend to keep the Bighorn River levels between 12,000 cfs and 13,000 cfs at least through the Fourth of July weekend.Meanwhile, water was flowing into the top end of the Bighorn Reservoir – which is backed up by Yellowtail Dam – at 16,705.9 cfs and the lake was filling at a rate of about eight inches per day. The lake level was at an elevation of 3,645.1 feet – more than four feet into the flood pool – and BOR officials predict that it could add another two feet of depth this week.

Correction and a change…

This just came from Reclamation:The BIA has requested an increase in diversions to the Bighorn Canal. Inflows into Bighorn Lake also continues to remain near 16,500 cfs. In response and continue slowing the rate of fill of storage in Bighorn Lake, the following operation change is required. Releases to the Bighorn River will be maintained near 12,450 cfs and maintained at rates necessary to maintain daily generation at Yellowtail powerplant near 250 MW-Hrs/day and the Afterbay level near elevation 3190.I M P O R T A N TPlease note yesterday’s water order from BOR contained a typo that stated releases would be slowly increased to 14,000cfs. This should have read 12,500cfs.

Now we’re making history!

It ain’t over yet! Here’s what just arrived from Reclamation:Recent precipitation, high elevation snowmelt runoff, and increased releases out of Boysen and Buffalo Bill Reservoirs have combined to maintain inflows to Bighorn Lake near 17,000 cfs. To slow the rate of fill of storage in Bighorn Lake, releases to the Bighorn River will be gradually increased to near 14,000 cfs and maintained at rates necessary to maintain daily generation at Yellowtail powerplant near 250 MW-Hrs/day and the Afterbay level near elevation 3190.I’d appreciate anyone who’s been on the river in the last few days to contact me, FWP or Reclamation with river, bank and habitat condition reports.

Make that 12,000cfs!

Friends,What many of us predicted has come to pass. This just arrived from Reclamation:High elevation snowmelt runoff and increased releases out of Boysen continue to maintain inflows to Bighorn Lake near 16,700 cfs. To slow the rate of fill of storage in Bighorn Lake, releases to the Bighorn River will be gradually increased to near 12,000 cfs and maintained at rates necessary to maintain daily generation at Yellowtail powerplant near 250 MW-Hrs/day and the Afterbay level near elevation 3190.Starting at 6pm tonight, river releases will increase from 10,000cfs to approximately 11,000cfs.At 10am on Sunday, river releases will increase from 11,000cfs to approximately 12,000cfs.The lake elevation is currently three feet in to the flood pool, and rising.For those of you that are wondering if releases have ever been this high, the answer is yes, but not very often.In July 1967, river releases were well above 12,000cfs, and often topped 24,000cfs.In July 1970, river releases exceeded 18,500cfs for several days.In July 1995, releases topped 14,000cfs briefly and,in July 1991, releases went over 12,000cfs for several days.Let’s be careful out there!-Doug