Bighorn Water Debate Rages On

May 3, 2007 By: Marshall Cutchin

As we all know, the Bighorn River in south central Montana gets plenty of usage. The Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, in Wyoming, is, on many days, comparatively empty. (If you don’t believe us, go see for yourself.) So why does the debate over how much water is kept in Wyoming and not released into the Bighorn, where spawning trout populations are dependent on consistent water flow, so significant? Because it represents the kind of argument that will happen on state and international borders with increasing frequency as water resources become more scarce.
To most folks, like Doug Haacke of Friends of the Bighorn (, it’s pretty clear that the Federal Bureau of reclamation has its priorities misplaced. In an opinion written for the Billings Gazette on April 28, he and friends Chris Fleck, Mike Whittington and Paul Morrison note that Wyoming politicians are frantic in their search for ways to justify withholding water, the latest evidence for which is a planned 3rd Bighorn Lake boat ramp which would require impounded water levels to be 35 feet higher.