Yellowstone dam, fish bypass Ok’d; court approval still needed

FILE PHOTO - In this Feb. 26, 2015 file photo, the Yellowstone River flows over the Intake Diversion Dam, a rock structure that captures water for agriculture, northeast of Glendive, Mont., near the North Dakota border. A proposal to remove the dam so an endangered, prehistoric fish species can reach its spawning grounds, could cost far more than a government plan to build a new dam and fish bypass at the site. The existing dam near the Montana-North Dakota border for decades has prevented an isolated and aging population of pallid sturgeon from swimming upstream.(AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – Federal officials have approved a $57 million dam and fish bypass on Montana’s Yellowstone River but construction can’t proceed until a judge signs off.

The decision Monday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation came over concerns from some scientists that the project wouldn’t help endangered pallid sturgeon as intended.

The bypass is meant to let the dinosaur-like fish get around the dam to reach their upstream spawning grounds.

Construction was supposed to start in 2015, but U.S. District Judge Brian Morris blocked the project after wildlife advocates sued.

Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Tyler Johnson says government attorneys will report back to the court within 15 days.

The dam would replace an existing rock weir, providing irrigation water for more than 50,000 acres of cropland in Montana and North Dakota.

Pallid Sturgeon
FILE – In this Oct. 24, 2003 file photo a pallid sturgeon is held by David Hendrix, manager of the Neosho National Fish Hatchery, at Franklin Island, Mo. U.S. officials will consider an alternative to a dam on the Yellowstone River over worries it could hurt the endangered, dinosaur-like fish, the pallid sturgeon. The move by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers comes after environmental groups successfully sued to stop the $59 million dam along the Yellowstone near the Montana-North Dakota border. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson, File)


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