Sediment Spill On Shoshone River

Oct 24, 2016

Credit Penny Preston

The Shoshone River east of Cody is choked with mud for miles. Wyoming’s Game and Fish fisheries biologist is investigating for massive fish kills. The sediment release apparently happened when Willwood Irrigation workers flushed water from the Willwood Dam between Cody and Powell.

Willwood Irrigation District Manager Todd Singbeil would not comment Sunday on the mud flow.

State fisheries biologist Jason Burkhardt was not available for an interview either, but did confirm he is investigating the issue.

Award-winning conservationist David Sweet, calls the spill an environmental disaster. He said tons of silt deposited behind the dam for decades has dumped into the river, killing tens of thousand of fish for miles.

Sweet was a 2014 Wyoming Outdoor Hall of Fame Award Winner.

He explained, “This sediment that’s flowing down this river has choked out the fishery, obviously for many many miles downstream from this location. There’s probably not a fish alive from here downstream for 40 or 50 miles.”

Sweet said the sediment has probably affected other river animals like beavers and muskrats. He pointed out even the bald eagles flying over the dam will probably have trouble finding fish to eat.

Sweet explained, “This was a blue ribbon trout fishery. Prior to this. We had brown trout that were wild fish. We had rainbows, cutthroat.”