Save the Bighorn

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The Bighorn River Alliance understands that a healthy fishery begins with healthy sustainable river flows. Unfortunately, the last decade of water management has revealed a problem with water management that has repeatedly delivered negative impacts to the river and its downstream economy, harming the river, its fisheries, angler recreation and working farms and ranches. This problem has to be remedied today.

Your Bighorn is Not Being Managed Sustainably.
Over the last ten years, the Bighorn River has experienced more days of flows exceeding 8,000cfs than the previous 40 years combined. These high flows have impeded angler access and rendered specific boat launching sites inaccessible. These flows have increased water temperatures that stress wild trout, affects water clarity, and aquatic insect hatches. These flows have eroded river banks, increasing sediment in the river and costing millions of dollars to working ranches, farms and landowners.

The Economics of the Bighorn River is not Federally Mandated under Dam Management Operating Criteria
When the Yellowtail dam began service in 1967, it was federally mandated that the dam would be managed for irrigation, flood control and power generation, with no consideration given to the fisheries downstream. Today, the Bighorn River wild trout fishery downstream of Yellowtail dam has proven to be a tremendous economic strength to the state of Montana and policy needs to be adjusted to recognize its contribution to the state on the federal level -ensuring its protection and consideration in dam management operating criteria. Outdated criteria and objectives need to be updated to reflect todays facts.

The Bighorn Alliance is Not Working Alone
The Bighorn Alliance, driven by the passion of our membership, has partnered with downstream ranchers, landowners, businesses and recreationalists to organize our efforts to bring changes to current dam management practices. Through combining our voices and sharing data we have committed to publicly addressing this issue in 2018 to bring awareness and change to an issue that we have identified as our number one priority.

We Need Your Voice
The Bighorn River is your public resource, and it is at risk. For years we have welcomed your concerns and done everything in our power to work collaboratively with federal agencies to promote positive change to Bighorn River flows. We have attended and presented at countless forums, drafted letters to state and federal leaders, held public community meetings and been a regular presence at the Bureau of Reclamations Bighorn Issues group meetings. These efforts, while informative, have not led to the change in water management practices that are needed for the continued growth and health of the Bighorn River. Today we ramp up our efforts and need your voice to bring impactful change.

Our Campaign
This year we are committed to strengthening our public voice for the Bighorn through a campaign titled “Save the Bighorn.” This campaign will focus on bringing public attention to the Bighorn and its economic importance to the state of Montana, which in turn will alert public leaders to initiate action on its behalf. Through the support of our membership, and shared concern over the future water management practices of the Bighorn we will work to make a public impact statement and provide materials that will bring awareness to water management practices that put the Bighorn River at risk.

Our Materials
Over the next few months, the Alliance will be posting its campaign documents, videos and materials on this page for your reference, review and to share.

1. A River at Risk Report – The Bighorn Alliance has compiled a report documenting the current economic contribution of the Bighorn River, and the negative economic impacts that current water management inflict on the downstream resource and its land use practices. View A River at Risk Report now.

 Take action now and add your voice to our “Save the Bighorn” campaign today by saying enough is enough. It is time to demand changes in water management storage and delivery that promote the health of the river and its downstream economy. It is time to speak up for our public resource, the Bighorn.


Press Releases
User Group Says Bureau of Reclamation Damaging the Bighorn River in Montana