February 10, 2023 – With the ongoing water shortage on the Colorado River system, there has been talk about getting rid of Lake Powell to save Lake Mead. Another proposal comes from Wyoming — creating smaller reservoirs at high elevations to avoid water loss downstream from evaporation.
One of these proposals is a concrete dam project in the Medicine Bow National Forest, which would create a new reservoir in the Colorado River Basin. The $80 million project would store 10,000 acre feet of water, which is much smaller than other reservoirs in the region. To build the dam along a tributary of the Snake River, the state is proposing a land swap of approximately 6,000 acres with the federal government to simplify land management and the review process.
Groups such as Wildlife Guardians oppose the project, questioning its ultimate benefit to irrigators, recreational users, and the environment. Proponents say the project will contribute to vital wetland habitat for local wildlife by releasing water more evenly for downstream users, as well as serving recreational interests.
Interested parties are invited to submit comments identifying significant issues, potential alternatives and other analysis on a proposed environmental impact statement for “construction of a dam and reservoir on the West Fork of Battle Creek to provide for rural agricultural water management.” The deadline is Monday, February 13, although the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) writes, “Comments received after the 45-day comment period will be considered to the extent possible.”
To submit comments or read the over-70 comments received so far, visit the NRCS website.
The Snake River in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson Lake Dam, by DXR, August 2011, shared under Creative Commons License on Wikimedia Commons.