Remove Dam To Save Endangered Fish

Pallid Sturgeon

Target: Michael J. Ryan, Great Plains Regional Director, United States Bureau of Reclamation

Goal: Remove dam keeping the endangered pallid sturgeon from reproducing.

An intake dam in Montana has been inhibiting the reproductive practices of the pallid sturgeon for decades. The pallid sturgeon, currently listed as endangered, is an ancient fish species that has lived since the days of dinosaurs. Blocked by the dam, the sturgeon are unable to make the journey up the Yellowstone River toward their spawning ground. Citizen activists have criticized the dam and called for its complete removal, an outcome that would allow the sturgeon to resume reproduction.

Pallid sturgeon, federally protected by the Endangered Species Act, are in danger of local extinction in Montana. The species’ numbers have declined dramatically in recent years due to human impacts, particularly alterations of waterways that impede the sturgeon’s upstream migration. Pallid sturgeon reproduce rarely and, due to the prevalence of dams, sediment loads, and other alterations to rivers, are reliant on human intervention to reproduce.

Alternative plans, such as a side channel allowing fish migration alongside the dam, have been proposed, though the pallid sturgeon has a history of noncompliance with man-made waterway innovations. The dam currently provides water to several farms, but water could be comparably provided by a series of pumps without interfering with the reproduction of the sturgeon. Urge the United States Bureau of Reclamation to take action and remove this dam for the sake of the endangered pallid sturgeon.


Dear Director Ryan,

As you know, an intake dam in the Yellowstone River has blocked reproduction of the pallid sturgeon for decades. The dam is keeping this endangered fish from making the journey upstream to its spawning ground. An endangered species, the pallid sturgeon has seen a dramatic reduction in its numbers in recent years due largely to man-made waterway alterations such as dams.

Though alternate plans have been presented, such as a side channel allowing the sturgeon to pass the dam and travel upstream, sturgeon typically do not comply with man-made waterways. The pallid sturgeon relies on human intervention to reproduce, and action must be taken to ensure that this species is able to maintain its numbers. Though the dam currently provides water to several farms, we believe it could be adequately replaced by pumps, which would not interfere with the sturgeon’s reproduction. We, the undersigned, urge you to take action and remove this dam for the sake of the endangered pallid sturgeon.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: U.S. fish and Wildlife Service

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