Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Shoshone River Decimated

Updated- December 8, 2016
Local, state, and federal agencies involved in either the causing or responding to the Willwood Dam silt release that killed trout and as smothered aquatic habitat for miles met yesterday in Casper, Wyoming.  Local papers reported rather glowingly on a meeting that provided little substance other than to study the possiblity that flushing flows from Buffalo Bill Dam west of Cody, Wyoming might be utilized to help remove the silt from behind the dilapidated dam.  The lack of ingenuity and effort leaves us to wonder just how the environmental timebomb resting behind the dam will be dealt with in a manner that protects the environment and holds those responsible for the situation accountable.

Updated- December 5, 2016
The weeks-long fish kill on the Shoshone River is set to repeat itself.  With little to no public outreach the Willwood Irrigation District refilled the reservoir pool behind the dilapidated Willwood Dam.  Refilling of the reservoir without even a half-hearted attempt at finding a solution for the estimated 530,00 cubic yards of sediment behind the dam leaves only the question of when the next trout and river killing release will take place.  For additional information on situation see the latest article in the Cody Enterprise.

After writing my series of blog posts on "how I accidentally decided to write a book" (see parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 respectively- part 5 is forthcoming), I took the summer off to backpack, fly fish, and be a father.  I also, in a fit of writing pique, cast aside all pretenses of writing for several months following the realization that the only way my book manuscript was going to be published was if I went down the self-publishing route.

My summer off taught me that self-doubt is a helluva devil to vanquish, even in the depths of beautiful Wyoming wilderness.  I eventually made peace with the realization that I was committed to my book manuscript and that if self publishing was the only way I was going to be able to share my ideas then so be it.  Nevertheless,  I have continued to allow this blog to languish.

While resuming work on my book manuscript I went back-and-forth for a couple of months on whether or not to reactive this blog and develop new content.  It has taken a local environmental tragedy to convince me that I need to continue writing on those things I love to write about most, namely conservation and fly fishing.
Four Pelicans on the Shoshone River above Willwood Dam

The local environmental tragedy that has brought me back to blogging is the decimation of the nearby Shoshone River.  In late October, maintenance on the antiquated Willwood Dam on the Shoshone resulted in the release of immense volumes of silt that had been slowly accumulating behind the dam.  The release smothered the river bottom and fish alike for miles downstream. For weeks silt continued to pour from the behind the dam, leaving miles of riverine habitat buried beneath feet, if not yards, of silt. As of today, the reservoir behind the decrepit dam is refilling ,serving as prelude for another preventable disaster on the Shoshone River.

I will update this post as I learn more on the fate of the Shoshone River below Willwood Dam.  Until then, welcome back to the Fly Fishing and Conservation blog!

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