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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Intake project still needs local support

Guest Opinion By Leslie Messer

Over the past year, Richland Economic Development Corp implored you to weigh in on the continuation of reliable irrigation water for Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota. Many of you responded passionately with cries of support for the preservation, prosperity and heritage of the families of the Yellowstone Valley, the LYIP, the concrete weir, and fish by-pass.  Well done! Our voices were heard, and they mattered greatly!

The safe passage of the endangered species, the pallid sturgeon, around the Intake Diversion structure has been front and center for us. We stood proudly alongside many of you at the public hearings to demonstrate just how important this is. The record-breaking number of proponents at these hearings encouraged all parties to work together to choose the most effective fish passage alternative to preserve our endangered species, our rivers and our agricultural economies for many generations to come. 

 Considerable tests were done, models were made, modifications were identified for the Intake Diversion structure, and the joint notice for the construction permit opened a 21 day comment period ending April 3rd, 2015. Again, we asked you to send in your community and individual support. Your effort and response was notable. Job well done, again!

It has now come to our attention that the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) made a request to the US Army Corps of Engineers to extend the comment period for the construction permit to Friday, April 17. The Corps has granted the extension. The NRDC is one organization that’s suing to stop the concrete weir and fish by-pass modifications from being completed at Intake.

What this extended comment period means for our area is one more opportunity to show our continued support for the reliable delivery of water to Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota.  If you’ve already written your letters and sent them in, fantastic and thank you! If you inadvertently missed the previous deadline, the time to chime in is now more important than ever. 

As our economy ebbs and tides with the oil and gas production, the ever constant agricultural engine buoys our economy through these changes. But what would happen to our economies without the value added crops produced by the LYIP irrigation water? What might our communities look like then? How different would the sales look in our businesses without the purchases made by these producers? 

We need to keep up the momentum! If you haven’t sent in a letter stating your support of the modifications and the concrete weir at Intake, please take 10 minutes and do it now. If you know of community organizations that haven’t sent one in, encourage them to do so before Friday, April 17. 

Send the letters with the application permit number to: 

Application No: NWO-2008-02556-MTB

Email to: Cathy Juhas: Catherine.d.juhas@usace.army.mil

Fax to: 406-657-5911

Thank you for joining us in writing the letters, showing your support, and making a difference in how our valley’s story is told to future generations. You wield great power by being authors of this chapter of LYIP’s saga!

Leslie Messer is Executive Director of the Richland Economic Development Corporation in Sidney.

 
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