BILLINGS — Federal officials have approved a $57 million dam and fish bypass on Montana’s Yellowstone River but construction can’t proceed until a judge signs off.
Monday’s decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation came over concerns from some scientists that the project wouldn’t help endangered pallid sturgeon as intended.
The bypass is meant to let the dinosaur-like fish get around the dam to reach their upstream spawning grounds.
Construction was supposed to start in 2015, but U.S. District Judge Brian Morris blocked the project after wildlife advocates sued.
Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Tyler Johnson says government attorneys will report back to the court within 15 days.
The dam would replace an existing rock weir, providing irrigation water for more than 50,000 acres of cropland in Montana and North Dakota.
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