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Snake/Salt Basin Advisory Group
December 10, 2001
Facilitators Cathy Lujan and Sherri Gregory-Schreiner opened the meeting at 6:00 p.m. at
the Alpine Civic Center. Each person in attendance was given the chance to introduce
himself or herself. Following the introductions, the agenda for the meeting was
reviewed. There were approximately 35 people in attendance.
The following schedule was then agreed upon for the next three Snake/Salt BAG
Wednesday, February 13, 2002, 6 p.m. - Thayne (changed from Afton)
Wednesday, April 10, 2002, 6 p.m. - Jackson
Wednesday, June 12, 2002, 6 p.m. - Alta
Basin Planning Update
Barry Lawrence gave a brief review of the items discussed at the last BAG meeting, and
distributed handouts from that meeting. Some of these handouts will not be put on the
website as they are considered draft products. Barry also gave a report on the progress of
other basin planning efforts in the State, and discussed the other BAG meetings that were
to take place during the week. Anyone interested was invited to attend any of the BAG
meetings across the state.
Consultant Update - Sunrise Engineering, Inc.
Ryan Erickson gave the consultant update. He presented a brief description of the basin
planning process, and how the work was progressing. A profile of the current water use
in the basin is being created, and a significant part of this is agricultural use. Bob King,
also of Sunrise Engineering, then described the use of Geographic Information Systems
for the basin plan. GIS software is being used to link the tabular data, such as water right
information, with the spatial data, such as irrigated lands mapping (polygons). Wells and
points of diversion have been added to the mapping, as well as township, range, and
section data. USGS quadrangle maps have been used as part of the GIS as well.
Wyoming's Current Drought Status - Jan Curtis, Wyoming State Climatologist
Jan Curtis, State Climatologist for Wyoming, presented information regarding the current
drought situation in the state, such as the Palmer Drought Index, Standardized
Precipitation Index, and a review of the precipitation over the last 90 days. Mr. Curtis
stated that Wyoming is currently in a drought, and that it will take precipitation
significantly above average to return to normal conditions. The Snake and Salt Basins
are currently in a better situation regarding drought than other areas of the state. It was
noted that there are many methods used to make long-term forecasts, however it is very
difficult to be accurate that far in the future. Mr. Curtis then presented data related to El
Nino/La Nina and sunspot activity, and indicated that this data has been statistically
significant in the past when making long-term forecasts. Many websites were also
reviewed that contained extensive climate and weather information.
Mr. Curtis stated that he is currently part of the Governor's Drought Task Force. In an
attempt to quantify drought, Jan indicated that he was developing a drought trigger
mechanism that will provide ample lead-time to prepare for drought (i.e., declare
emergency, implement water priority access, etc.). The triggers are based on 1 Oct
historical reservoir level departures, actual winter snowpack by 1 April, and soil
moisture. Using winter and summer precipitation forecasts (6 months in advance) and
April's forecast (one month in advance) for prairie grassland growth potential, a template
is expected to assist State of Wyoming departments on being more proactive in reacting
to a developing drought. If the drought is more than one year long, additional factors are
added in order to determine just what amount of precipitation is required to end the
Jan indicated that the Water Resources Data System (WRDS) website at:
has important real-time and forecast links pertaining to
water/snow, soil moisture, reservoir levels, fire potential, and precipitation. The one-stop
USGS Data Collection - Myron Brooks, U.S. Geological Survey
Myron Brooks, USGS District Chief, presented information regarding data collection by
the USGS. He indicated that the USGS is not a regulatory agency, and does not create or
enforce regulations. Rather, they provide water resource data in an impartial and timely
manner. Data collected by USGS include stream gaging, which measures the stage of a
river or stream. This is generally done using a stilling well or pressure transducer.
Stream discharge can also be measured by determining the cross-sectional area and the
velocity. Mr. Brooks stated that rating curves are created which correlate the stage to the
discharge, allowing the approximation of the discharge from the stage reading. These
curves are calibrated periodically to ensure accuracy. In addition to gaging operations,
water quality samples are also collected by the USGS in certain locations. These samples
are then analyzed at the USGS lab in Lakewood, Colorado.
Relative to the Snake-Salt, Mr. Brooks stated that there are many gage locations
throughout the basin, however, many of them have not been in service for many years
and may have limited data. The median number of years of data for gages in the basin is
5.9. It is preferred that gages have a median of at least 10 years for statistical purposes.
It was noted that data collected by the USGS can be useful in a variety of applications,
such as planning, design, and research.
Sample data from the Snake River below Jackson Lake was then presented. Mr. Brooks
stated that the stage data throughout the year indicated an unnatural change over time for
a stream influenced by snowmelt. This is due to the fact that the data is recorded just
below the dam, and the stage is determined by releases from the dam, not snowmelt.
Water quality samples were compared from above Jackson Lake to below the dam, and
the influence of the lake was shown.
Myron presented the USGS website,
http://water.usgs.gov/nwis which contains a large
quantity of data on streams and rivers. Real-time data for many gaging stations can also
be found on this website.
Fisheries Management in the Snake/Salt - Tracy Stephens, Wyoming Game & Fish
Tracy Stephens presented information regarding the management of fish populations in
the streams and rivers of the Snake and Salt River Basins. The various species of fish
present in the basin were outlined, as well as their classifications of being game or non-game,
native or introduced. It was stated that a main objective of the Game & Fish was
to maintain the wild native trout populations in the basins. Various field activities
conducted by the Game & Fish were presented, such as electro-fishing, creel surveys,
productivity studies, fish stocking, redd counts, and trophy lake trout monitoring.
Threats to the fishery were outlined by Ms. Stephens, which included rainbow trout,
whirling disease, and habitat degradation. Rainbow trout are considered a threat since
they can cross-breed with cutthroat trout, which can jeopardize the pure strain of the
native fish. It was noted that whirling disease has devastated fish populations in other
states, but has not had a significant impact in the basin at this time. Ms. Stephens closed
by noting that sampling activities indicate that the current status of the fisheries in the
Snake River stands at 600 pounds/mile and in the Salt River, 470 pounds/mile.
After a brief question and answer period, the meeting was adjourned at 8:35 p.m.