- Associated Press - Thursday, February 2, 2017

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - The Latest on a legal dispute over an irrigation project on Montana’s Yellowstone River that officials say will help endangered pallid sturgeon but wildlife advocates say could doom the endangered species (all times local):

11 a.m.

Wildlife advocates say they’ll fight the government’s request to lift a 2015 injunction barring construction of an irrigation dam on the Yellowstone River in a legal dispute over the fate of a fast-disappearing, endangered fish.

Federal agencies want to begin construction on the dam and an artificial fish bypass channel in July.

Government attorneys argued in court documents filed Wednesday night that the bypass is the pallid sturgeon’s best hope and would allow the fish to reach upstream spawning grounds.

Biologists have doubts the bypass would work.

Jonathan Proctor with Defenders of Wildlife said Thursday that the best solution is to remove an existing rock weir at the proposed dam site and install pumps to provide river water to croplands in Montana and North Dakota.

The case is before U.S. District Judge Brian Morris.


7:18 a.m.

U.S. government attorneys are asking a federal judge to lift an injunction blocking a proposed Yellowstone River irrigation dam that wildlife advocates say could doom an endangered fish.

The dam would divert irrigation water for 55,000 acres of croplands in Montana and North Dakota. It would include a fish bypass channel so that decades-old pallid sturgeon could reach upstream spawning grounds.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris blocked construction two years ago, saying federal agencies hadn’t shown the bypass would work.

Federal officials concluded after further study that the bypass channel is the sturgeon’s best hope. Fisheries scientists have doubts.


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