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Stabilizing The High Uintas Wilderness Reservoirs Is Within Reach

INTRODUCTION If there are just two or three letters you write this year to try and influence a wilderness decision THIS IS ONE OF THEM! This is an opportunity not to be lost and one which needs every single wild voice associated with the High Uintas Preservation Council. YOUR WILD VOICE IS NEEDED NO LATER THAN MARCH 16, 2001: Harold Sersland Central Utah Water Conservancy District 355 West University Parkway Orem, UT 85058

The Central Utah Water Conservancy District (CUWCD) has prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA), "203(a), Uinta Basin Replacement Project," implementing the 1992 Central Utah Project Completion Act (CUPCA). Because the original projects under CUPCA Section 203(a) were too environmentally damaging, and, in many cases, infeasible, a series of interacting replacement projects were proposed as alternatives and evaluated in this EA.

The Proposal

The fundamental value of this proposal is that without constructing a single new reservoir the EA proposes to stabilize as natural inflow-outflow lakes the four reservoired lakes in the High Uintas Wilderness (HUW) on the Lake Fork drainage (the proposed Lake Fork Alternatives-LFA) and the nine reservoired lakes on the Yellowstone/Swift Creek drainages (Twin Potts Alternative-TPA)!

Lake Fork Reservoirs Yellowstone River/Swift Creek Reservoirs
-Kidney -Superior -E. Timothy
-Clement -Five Point -Farmers
-Brown Duck -Drift -White Miller
-Island -Bluebell -Deer and Water Lily

All of these reservoirs were built by hand at the turn of the century for irrigation purposes

To accomplish this and still provide the contractual water for local farmers and municipal/industrial water users, and with the support of these groups, the extant off-stream Big Sand Wash Reservoir would be enlarged and two small pipelines (LFA) or one additional small pipeline (TPA) would be constructed to move water from the Lake Fork to the Yellowstone River and to and from the Big Sand Wash Reservoir and into Roosevelt. All of these facilities are off-forest.

Under the Lake Fork Alternative the Moon Lake Reservoir Outlet works would be modified to allow for a small winter instream flow for the Lake Fork down to the Big Sand Wash Feeder Pipeline. This stretch of the river is on Reservation and private land and would only marginally increase the fishery. At present there is no instream flow for the Lake Fork thus the Twin Potts Alternative does not de-water any stream segment. But there appears no hydrological reason that the small instream flow could not be provided under the Twin Potts Alternative!

The real value of this proposal is the creation of wetlands, natural stream flows, removal of the wilderness reservoirs and re-establishment of the natural lake systems on those 13 wilderness lakes. We have been pushing and prodding for this necessary proposal for over three decades. Finally, an ecologically based proposal has surfaced that also has minimal impacts downstream!

The actual analysis of how the reservoirs will be removed and the lakes stabilized will come through a Forest Service analysis to determine the "minimum tool" necessary to accomplish the reservoir removal (motorized equipment versus non-motorized equipment and how each dam/reservoir/outlets will be removed, etc.). Getting to that point through this proposal is the first and crucial step. Without it the dams remain, the potential for motorized access to maintain the reservoirs exists, and the ecological integrity of the Uintas stays out of reach!

What To Do -Your wild voice matters.

  1. Put pen to paper. Don't do an email. No sign on letters. Make your voice real and vigorous.
  2. The Twin Potts Alternative resolves all 13 reservoired lakes on the Lake Fork and Yellowstone drainages on the South Slope of the High Uintas Wilderness. That alone represents a rare positive ecological opportunity! Tell the CUWCD you strongly support that alternative. If you know these places, talk about them and yourself -- who you are and why it is so important to initiate this process of ecological integrity. If you haven't been there, speak just as clearly about the value of stabilizing these lakes to meet the intent of the High Uintas Wilderness -- a wild landscape. Urge an instream flow for this alternative!
  3. PLEASE WRITE. In the future a huge battle looms on the Uinta River where 5 more HUW reservoirs need stabilization. We must start here with a success!

"A person cannot be afraid of being foolish. For everything, every gesture, is sacred." Barry Lopez, River Notes

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