This just came from Reclamation:Due to changing hydrologic conditions in the Bighorn Basin, we are increasing releases to the Bighorn River from the Yellowtail Afterbay Dam. At 5:00 p.m. MDT on April 29, 2010, releases will be adjusted from 2,000 cfs to 2,250 cfs. We will continue to closely monitor conditions as we enter the runoff season.
This just arrived from Reclamation:A Mock Afterbay Automated Gate Control System Failure is going to be conducted on April 27th, between 1000 hour and 1600 hour. During this exercise if the gates should fail, it will be coordinated between the Casper Control Center, and Western Area Power to maintain the Afterbay Reservoir Elevation within +/- 1 foot of the elevation when the simulated failure occurred, without changing the flows in the river downstream of the afterbay. This is in accordance with Activity Plan YTAB-SOP-04-27-2010.If all goes well, flows should remain at or very close to 2,000cfs during this exercise.
First and foremost, always carry a valid Montana fishing license, obey all local and federal regulations and stay below the high water mark at all times. A tribal officer has the right to approach you and ascertain who you are (i.e., tribal member or not). Beyond that, if you are not a tribal member and you are below the high water mark, the tribal officer has no jurisdiction, and may not confiscate your personal property or issue you a citation. On the Bighorn River, if you are recreating below the high water mark, you do not need to hold or possess a tribal permit. If you are confronted by a tribal officer and you are not a tribal member, state you are not a tribal member and show him identification. If asked if you have a tribal permit, indicate you are not a tribal member and not required to hold a tribal permit. If you wish, you may show your Montana license. If you are issued a citation, accept the citation if it is offered, and do not post any money or relinquish any property. Under no circumstances should an angler breach the peace. Don’t voluntarily turn over or relinquish any property, but if the tribal officer actually gets close enough to grab equipment do not resist in any way. If anything is taken from you, request a detailed receipt signed by the officer with his badge number or other identifier. If you are with an angling partner and have a camera – take pictures and document where the officer approached you and what transpires during the encounter. After an encounter, write down all the details you can remember as soon as you can to preserve a record. And please, if you are lawfully recreating on the Bighorn River below the high water mark and are confronted by a tribal officer, please report the incident to Region 5, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Billings, MT (406) 247-2940. Special thanks to Region 5 Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for their assistance with this matter, as well as our good attorney friends!
The 2010 Spring Planning Meeting in Lovell didn’t have many surprises. While the inflow forecast still looks pretty bleak, its much better than a month ago. In fact, Reclamation is now expecting the reservoir to fill. (Good thing you didn’t bet me, Tim). The highlight of the meeting was a presentation provided by Western Area Power Administration, who clearly described the convoluted juggling act they must perform with regards to selling power and fulfilling power contracts. They really don’t like spilling water not only because its so wasteful, but it robs them of the ability to take advantage of the peaking ability of Yellowtail Dam. Gordon Aycock spoke about the rule curves he’s developed, and many of us were happy to see he’s planned for lake elevations dropping below 3,620 during high water years. Gordon deserves a lot of credit for his honest, hard work on his rule curves.The Issues Group meeting was abbreviated, but Reclamation did have enough time to recap the status of the three ongoing studies. Firstly, the sedimentation study being done on the south end of the lake appears to be complete. Unfortunately, there are very, very few alternatives for dealing with the silt, and certainly none that are even close to be considered economically feasible. For the first time at any of these meetings, Reclamation made mention that the day Horseshoe Bend must be abandoned is not far off. Secondly, the reservoir re-allocation study is still ongoing. This study is looking at the possibility of raising the bottom of the flood pool 3 to 5 feet. At this point, this look unlikely, but the study will continue. Lastly, the Bighorn River side channel study geomorphic study has been completed. Its most notable discovery was that downcutting in the river was much, much less than expected, and does not play a major factor in wetting side channel habitat. It also pointed out that debris and sediment that is being flushed at the mouths of the side-channels is acceleratingthe choking off of some side channels by promoting revegetation. This study will continue into its second phase where it begins to study hydraulics, and what flows are require to wet side-channels.The regular monthly conference calls will continue, and increae in frequency when run-off begins.
The Bighorn River System Issues Group Meeting and Bighorn Basin Interagency Coordination Meeting (aka the Spring Planning meeting) are scheduled for this Thursday. Both meetings will be held at the Lovell Community Center this Thursday, April 8th starting at 9am. A complete agenda can be downloaded here.
Download this free application to monitor river releases, lake elevations, canal discharges. snowpack, releases from Buffalo Bill and Boysen reservoirs and more!The application runs on PCs and Macs, is free of charge, and requires Adobe Flash and Adobe Air to run. Click the link Free Monitor! in the right column for download and installation instructions.If you like this application, consider supporting Magic City Fly Fishers and the Bighorn River Alliance.