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Corps Begin Weekly Meetings On Fort Peck Water Releases

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Missouri River Water Management Division started its weekly virtual meetings on Wednesday, April 24, to keep residents updated on the status of Fort Peck test flows. The call attracted more than 60 participants.

The public can access the meetings, which start at noon (mountain time) on Wednesdays, at https:// php?MTID=ma8b176ff7ce-553ae5f1f645f3a8629a4.

The 2018 Biological Opinion requires the test under the Endangered Species Act for operation of the Missouri River Mainstream Reservoir System. The purpose of the test flows is to evaluate the potential for achieving pallid sturgeon spawning and recruitment on the upper Missouri River. During the call on Wednesday, John Remus, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management office, said that the process will begin at Fort Peck Dam on Friday, April 26. Test flows will reach 18,000 cubic feet per second in Wolf Point on Wednesday, May 1, and hold for three days. The amount will then be reduced to 13,000 cfs. He said not much flow is anticipated from the Milk River.

Joe Bonneau of the Corps of Engineers reported that fish monitoring has been going on for about four weeks in order to understand how the fish are doing compared to other years. When asked where the pallid sturgeon are currently located, Bonneau said around Wolf Point or maybe a little above Wolf Point.

Roosevelt County resident Dick Iversen asked if there was a way to have real-time monitoring so people could observe the water levels. Bonneau said he was opened to discuss the possibility.

Roosevelt County resident Dana Berwick said some people have wondered if it would be a challenge to put boats into the river because of the process. Bonneau answered that crews have been able to put boats in the river with similar water flows.

During a public meeting held in March, Remus explained that the new targets for the test flow are 18,000 cubic feet per second in Wolf Point during April/ May and 22,500 cfs in Wolf Point during June. Originally, the high amount was 28,000 cfs.

Part of the reason for the shift is to achieve better temperatures, according to officials. Remus noted that this is only a test in order to collect data. If benefits are seen, then officials might use that information to shape another test. He added that officials will monitor fish on both the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers.

Remus said the Corps is conducing “human consideration monitoring” including aerial photography, physical surveys, cultural resource monitoring, dam safety monitoring and water quality monitoring.

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