Newscasts

PNS Daily Newscast - November 21, 2018 


Senators from both sides of the aisle want Trump to clear the air on the Khashoggi killing. Also on the Wednesday rundown: Massachusetts leads the U.S. in the fentanyl-overdose death rate; plus we will let you know why business want to preserve New Mexico’s special places.

Daily Newscasts

Fate of Ancient ND Fish in Government Hands

The endangered pallid sturgeon is being blocked from reaching its natural breeding grounds on the Yellowstone River. (Byrd Vernon/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
The endangered pallid sturgeon is being blocked from reaching its natural breeding grounds on the Yellowstone River. (Byrd Vernon/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
February 22, 2016

BISMARCK, N. D. – Conservationists say the fate of an ancient fish species is now in the hands of the U.S. government.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation are combing through public comments about a dam project along the Yellowstone River. At issue is the Diversion Dam, which supplies water to farms in western North Dakota.

Steve Forrest, senior Rockies and Plains representative for the group Defenders of Wildlife, says the dam has for years been blocking the endangered pallid sturgeon from reaching its natural breeding habitat.

"The pallid sturgeon have not reproduced in the wild in the last 50 or 60 years," says Forrest. "It's really important to make sure that these wild fish get at least one last chance at producing some young, and that chance is rapidly expiring."

Defenders of Wildlife sued the two federal agencies last year for trying to expand the dam, and a judge put the expansion project on hold. Now, the agencies are reviewing comments on alternative, more fish-friendly ideas, with an Environmental Impact Statement expected in July.

Defenders of Wildlife argues the agencies' original plans would have created a bigger barrier for the fish, which might have made its extinction all but inevitable.

While the Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation review their options, Forrest says one solution in particular is better than most.

"Getting that dam out of the river is the surest and most direct path to getting enough sturgeon upstream so that they can start reproducing again," he states.

Short of that, Forrest's group is encouraging the agencies to consider any option that will not only provide full passage for the fish, but also better irrigation opportunities for local farmers.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND