As the U.S. Forest Service studies a Wyoming plan for irrigators to draw down a Sublette recreation destination by 22 feet, it likely won’t weigh water-saving alternatives.
Soon after the Wyoming Water Development office released its final report in the fall of 2017 supporting an $80 million dam proposed on the West Fork of Battle Creek, a tributary of the Little Snake River in Carbon County, critics began to question the project. It would supply supplemental irrigation for 67 to 100 ranchers, fueling skepticism that spread to include a majority of the state House of Representatives. Representatives stripped funding from the project, but reached a compromise with the Senate kept the project alive. Now water developers seek to secure pro-rata funding from Colorado, which would benefit from the dam, and 100 acres of U.S. Forest Service property for the proposed 10,000-acre reservoir.
But lawmakers want full funding identified — perhaps including $20 million from Colorado — before any construction begins.
Wyoming could advance plans for a bigger dam at New Fork Lake, management of federal lands, and a lease that would enable development in sage grouse habitat.