Montana FWP Lawsuit Questions Procedures to Close Bitterroot River Diversion Dam
A lawsuit has been filed in Ravalli County against Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for using an emergency process to close down a section of the Bitteroot River and not giving the public time to weigh in on the decision.
FWP Regional Fisheries Manager Pat Saffel said FWP did the right thing:
“We do think we went through the proper procedures,” Saffel said. “There’s an emergency closure procedure for us and we were just in a spot where we had attempted several other measures that hadn’t closed that section of river. It just got to the point where that was the only other option we had left.”
The river was shut down because of a diversion dam that had caused three accidents this year and a death last summer. Saffel said an assessment was completed this week and a request for grant money will be sent to the state legislature Thursday. However, it will take a while before the diversion dam can be replaced.
“Well, the legislature is 2015, so that’s an early winter through late spring timeline. We wouldn’t really have word until sometime then,” Saffel said. “2015, I think, we would be fortunate to get going, but I think it might be 2016.”
The total cost of the project will be around $400,000 to $500,000.