Projects Underway to Boost Popo Agie River

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Lander producers who have been at risk of losing irrigation water due to river erosion have received help from Conservation District Managers.

Conservation Districts are working to protect farmers with an emergency aid program.

Multiple projects are underway to re-inforce crumbling river infrastructure with mostly federal funds.

Kelsey Beck, Popo Agie Conservation District Manager commented, “This program offers a cost share for landowners up to 75 percent from the federal government, 25 percent from landowners to do protection of infrastructure and property related to natural disaster events, especially the flood event here in Fremont County of 2017.”

High snow-melt flows caused many erosion problems for Lander producers.

“More than 50 folks are impacted, a lot of these ditch users are downstream so if their head gates blown out, or the ditch is compromised, you’re not going to get any water on the fields and that is going to be downstream for a while so there’s quite a few folks impacted.”

Unlike Riverton farmers who have canals, most Lander producers use irrigation ditches.

“Lander’s infrastructure system is not set up like Riverton’s where we have major irrigation canals, we have a lot of ditches and individual properties and that’s where this program is here to try and protect so these ditches don’t blow out and people aren’t left without their water for crops and resources and can continue operations.”

The emergency water shed protection program only works for irrigation ditches in danger of being overwhelmed.

“They have to be still in working condition they just need protection, so that’s how these programs work is to protect these structures being compromised or jeopardized with the threat of natural disaster or run-off event happening.”

Right now, at least seven different eroded riverbanks need re-enforcement to protect the irrigation ditches.

Beck said the Popo Agie Conservation District is a sponsor for the program and is helping to manage the financial and administrative aspects of each project.

This is to ensure they are completed quickly and properly.