Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hitting the Links: Madison River Flows and Milltown Dam Update

A couple of links to ponder while tying hoppers and painting your nails...

The guys over at Madison River Fishing Company are spitting mad (scroll down around halfway)about the current agreement that governs the flows on the Madison below Hebgen Lake. In summary, the flows are governed by PP&L, who hold the license agreement on the dam, and, while PP&L talks a pretty good game, they don't generally have any obligation to help out fly fisherfolks, the trout in the river, or anyone that might make a living off the river from a recreational standpoint. Now that is par for the course here in the west. But what has the guys (or perhaps just the dude who writes their fishing report) ready to blow a fusilage, is the sweet (for them) terms PP&L got written into the licensing agreement for the dam. Basically, the minimum flows in the agreement are way below the historical minimums and it would be a serious threat to the trout populations if these flows were put into practice.

All of this has come to light because flows on the river have been downright weird this year. Even though the lake is full, the water is coming out of the dam well below the historical average for this time of year. PP&L will certianly raise the flows this fall and may have to pump some serious liquid to make room for next year's snowpack. Of course, I spend most of my time wondering how that might affect the October trip that I have planned up that way, but I am selfish jerk, so what do you expect?

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For those eddy dwellers wondering what's going with the Clark Fork and the Blackfoot since the Milltown Dam was removed, check this out. It seems that more toxic sediment is in the river than originally expected. I see a fair amount of science in my day job and one thing that many scientists will tell you is that it is extremely difficult to model an ecological system. Stories like this serve to reinforce that point. Lets hope that this dam removal ends up as a huge long-term succes without completely spoiling the short term.

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