December 20, 2017
Contact: John Weisheit Colorado Riverkeeper
Gary Wockner, Save the Colorado, 970-218-8310
Rica Fulton, Upper Green River Network
BOONDOGGLE ALERT: 280 FOOT-TALL DAM PROPOSED IN WYOMING’S LITTLE SNAKE RIVER DRAINAGE, A MAJOR TRIBUTARY TO THE YAMPA RIVER
Colorado River Basin, USA: In 2015, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead proposed the “10 dams in 10 years” initiative in the Wyoming Water Strategy Report. Stemming from this hasty initiative, the West Fork Reservoir on the West Fork of Battle Creek has been proposed in the Little Snake River drainage. This reservoir scheme would impound 10,000 acre-feet of water in the Green River Basin in Wyoming, and inundate two miles of Battle Creek and Haggerty Creek, before those creeks cross the Colorado state line and flow into the Little Snake River and then the Yampa River.
Proponents of the proposed West Fork Reservoir tout the idea that ranchers and fish alike will see benefits from additional storage, despite the fact that a hundred years of dam building has proven quite the opposite for fish and the environment. Further, the dam would hold back sediment, a key component of fish species’ health – in fact, the Little Snake River contributes the bulk of sediment into the Yampa River.
Environmentalists in Wyoming and around the Colorado River basin are also critical of the project.
“This is Wyoming ‘water greed’ in full force,” said Rica Fulton, who directs the Upper Green River Network for the Waterkeeper Alliance. “It seems the sole purpose of the proposed West Fork Reservoir, as well as the expansion of Fontenelle Reservoir, is to keep water in Wyoming that the state doesn’t really need. Impounding water just because Wyoming can is a greedy and outdated political position.”
“The Green River basin is already threatened by other dams and diversions, and the Colorado River downstream is on life support,” said Gary Wockner who directs the Save The Colorado River Campaign based in Colorado. “We need to be protecting and restoring our rivers and creeks of the Colorado River basin, not further draining them.”
100 acres of Forest Service land in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest would need to be acquired in order to make this project a reality. Proponents believe the project would cost $80 million and have already spent over $1 million studying it.