SPOKANE, Wash. – Federal dam operators have stopped spilling water over Montana’s Libby Dam. Now they will see if the effort will help endangered wild Kootenai River white sturgeon reproduce for the first time in more than three decades.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on June 10 started spilling up to 27,000 cubic feet per second over the giant dam, in an effort to push sturgeon to more productive breeding grounds in Idaho.
It’s too early to say if the spill was successful in helping North America’s largest freshwater fish. A toothless beast from the days of dinosaurs, the sturgeon can reach 19 feet long and top 1,000 pounds. They take 20 or 30 years to reach maturity, and have not reproduced since 1974, when the dam was built.