Well, I’ve had it. With lake elevations only inches from being the highest on record for this time in March and conditions all forecast at average or above average, Reclamation is operating for drought and setting the river up for more of the same old headaches. God help us if we get a big spring weather event!
After eight years, Reclamation still aren’t listening to us. After eight years, they still don’t believe its going to rain again. When there’s snow pack, they don’t think its going to come off on time. Now we have a perfectly normal year and they’re setting up for a drought. I can’t take it anymore.
During today’s conference call, I blew a cork, hung up, and sent Reclamation the letter below. I know many of you appreciate river updates, and I promise to continue those as best I can. I just don’t have the strength to attend those unproductive, completely non-collaborative meetings and conference calls anymore.
The time has come to engage our governor, our congressional delegation and bring some national exposure to this issue. All we’re asking for is some balance in water management. They did it in during the first 30 years of dam operations, they can do it again.
I’m sorry. I’ve been an idiot for letting them dupe me into thinking we were making progress and working together. It’ll never happen again and I’ll do my best to make it up to you.
Hang in there, and please continue to support organizations like the Bighorn River Alliance, Magic City Fly Fishers and Montana Trout Unlimited as well as the outfitters, guides, shops and lodges who will help us take this fight forward.
Montana Area Office
Bureau of Reclamation
Reservoir and River Operations
After nearly eight years of working unsuccessfully with the Montana Area Office in the hopes of bringing some balance to the Yellowtail operating criteria, I am disengaging as a stakeholder to focus my time and efforts elsewhere. Since I have been involved, matters are far worse and there is growing evidence that MTAO’s overly conservative water management policy is worsening and impacting other watersheds, namely the Missouri, which along with the Bighorn, comprise two of the three most heavily used rivers in Montana. While I have greatly appreciated the friendships and courtesies MTAO has extended to me over the years, I believe its time to stop playing the dupe, step back and re-engage at a different, more effective, and less personal level.
I may silently attend the usual meetings and conference calls, but only to document issues and waypoints that are important to my friends and colleagues who have come to rely upon my blog for such information not only for recreation but, in some cases, their very livelihoods.
I will not give up my search, however, to understand what is driving MTAO’s desire to manage water so conservatively (and well in excess of the desires of lake users to the south), and why the priority to top out the conservation pool each year to the exclusion of nearly all other interests (including several congressional mandates) is so important. I know I’m not the only taxpayer, angler, outfitter or river advocate who is looking for these answers, and clearly it is time to re-engage the congressional delegation as well as bring some national attention to this concern.
Friends of the Bighorn River, founder
Magic City Fly Fishers, Conservation Director
Montana Trout Unlimited, Executive Committee and Past Chairman