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Bear River Basin Advisory Group
March 24, 2003
Facilitator Sherri Gregory-Schreiner welcomed the group
and the meeting was called to order at 6:03 p.m. All attendees introduced
themselves, followed by a review of the overall meeting agenda. A
sign-in sheet was passed around to record attendance. The next meeting
is scheduled for July 7 in Kemmerer.
Water Development Commission Report
Barry Lawrence updated the BAG on the status of the plans
for the other basins. The BAGs for the Green and the Snake/Salt
Basins will be meeting March 25 in Rock Springs and March 26 in Alpine,
whereas the BAGS for the Wind/Bighorn, Powder/Tongue and Northeast
Wyoming Basins will be meeting April 1 in Cody, April 2 in Buffalo,
and April 3 in Newcastle. Open houses for the Platte River Basin will
be held this spring. Barry discussed the status of all basin studies,
and agenda for future meetings
John Jackson indicated that 4 new commissioners had been appointed, including
Dan Budd in Division IV. Nineteen new projects were authorized in
the Omnibus Water Bill – Planning, including the Cokeville Reservoir
project study. Twenty-seven projects were authorized in the Omnibus
Water Bill – Construction. The two in this basin included the North
Uinta/Bear Water Supply project, which will add new storage, a well,
and a transmission line and for the Smiths Fork Flumes project, the
installation of 3 new measuring devices on the Smiths Fork. The Groundwater
Exploration Grant Program, which was amended in 2002, was appropriated
an additional budget of $1,500,000. Eligibility for the Small Water
Project Program was amended to include the entire state.
Bear Lake Settlement
Claudia Conder and Carly Burton, PacifiCorp, detailed the
proposed 2003 Allocation Addendum to the 1995 Bear Lake Settlement
Agreement. The addendum provides for the development of a single
interstate model and amends the allocation schedule to reflect conveyance
losses between Bear Lake and the contract delivery points and system
losses below Bear Lake. Hopefully, the addendum will be fully
executed this spring.
Carly also summarized the 2000-2002 Bear Lake/Bear River operation
and projected water supplies for 2003. Graphs of Bear Lake net
runoff for the period of 1913-2002 and Bear Lake elevation from 1916
to 2002 were shown and discussed. It was reported that the Army
Corps of Engineer dredging permit had been issued and that dredging should
begin soon. A brief discussion followed.
What Happens to Fish in the Smiths Fork Irrigation System
Dr. Frank Rahel and James Roberts, University of Wyoming, indicated
there are a variety of 14 native trout species in the western United
States, all in declining populations. Dr. Rahel discussed the conservation
status in relationship to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the
Nature Conservancy, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
James Roberts indicated the study site included the Covey,
Mau and Spring Creek irrigation canals of the Smiths Fork drainage.
The three objectives of the study included 1) determining the abundance
of species and species composition of entrapped fishes; 2) determining
the fate of the Bonneville trout in irrigation canals; and 3) determining
the influence of headgate and canal structure on fish entrapment.
During the 2002 surveys, 12 difference species were identified, with
non-game fish, such as suckers, minnows, and sculpin, found with more
frequency than the Bonneville cutthroat trout. 22 fish were implanted
with transmitters and tracked through the three irrigation canals.
Preliminary results of the sampling were shared with the BAG. James
discussed the fieldwork planned for the summer of 2003. A lengthy
Instream Flow Issues
(1320kb PDF) &
Filings in Bear River Basin
Tom Annear, Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), indicated
that instream flow is beneficial in that it maintains a quality of
life, is an important economic factor in tourism and is a legal tool
for the State of Wyoming to protect a beneficial use of water. The goals
are to either maintain existing flow patterns and habitat on public lands
or to restore or improve flow patterns and fishery habitat on private
property. The process to obtain an instream flow right has science,
public involvement and legal/institutional components. These involve
various state agencies, the public, and various state and federal laws.
Paul Dey, WGFD, indicated that of the 83 statewide instream flow segments
filings, 17 segments were located in the upper Thomas Fork and Smiths
Fork drainages. Priority dates range from 1995 to 1997, and the State
Engineer has approved 12 of the 17 instream flow rights. Paul described
each segment’s habitat. Discussion followed.
Bear River Supply Outlook
Jade Henderson, Water Division IV Superintendent, stated that
Snotel measurements indicate that statewide, every basin is ahead of
last year’s snowpack except the Bear River drainage. He discussed
the Woodruffs Narrows and Sulphur Creek Reservoir storage restrictions.
The anticipated runoff for Smith’s Fork is 71,000 AF, or 60% of normal
as of March 1. Jade indicated that interstate regulation would likely
be experienced in both the central and upper divisions in 2003.
Jan Curtis, State Climatologist, introduced the drought website
and drought related links, which included the palmer index, soil moisture
and Snotel maps. Most of the state is in an exceptional drought,
but due to recent snowstorms, most of the state, except for this area, has
been upgraded to an extreme drought. As of March 24, 2003, the average
snowpack in the Bear River basin was 68%. He emphasized the importance
of precipitation in April for the basin. A brief discussion followed.
The meeting adjourned at 9:04 p.m.