Judge in Endangered Fish Lawsuit Lifts Hold on Montana Dam

Officials plan to begin construction on the $59 million dam and fish bypass in July

HELENA — A judge has lifted his hold on a proposed irrigation dam and fish passage that U.S. officials say is the best hope to save an endangered ancient species of fish in the Yellowstone River.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris on Wednesday sided with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation, despite arguments from wildlife groups that question whether the 125 wild pallid sturgeon in the river would use the fish passage.

The long-snouted fish can grow up to 6 feet long and have been around since the time of dinosaurs. Their passage to upstream spawning grounds has been blocked for decades by a rock weir that diverts water for hundreds of eastern Montana farms.

Officials plan to begin construction on the $59 million dam and fish bypass in July.

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