Bureau of Reclamation sued over Glacier-area bull trout

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An environmental group has sued the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, alleging that its operation of waterworks on the east side of Glacier National Park harms bull trout and violates the Endangered Species Act.

The St. Mary River flows east out of Gunsight Lake and through St. Mary Lake in Glacier, then north through the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and into Canada. It’s one of only a few watersheds east of the Continental Divide that bull trout inhabit.

Those fish are being illegally harmed by the Bureau of Reclamation, claims Alliance for the Wild Rockies. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Great Falls, the environmental nonprofit argues that the Bureau’s activities amount to an “ongoing, unpermitted, incidental take of hundreds of bull trout each year.”

They focus on the Bureau’s handling of the Milk River Irrigation Project. Dams divert the St. Mary and one of its tributaries, Swiftcurrent Creek, into the St. Mary Canal, which carries water 30 miles east to the Milk River watershed, where it’s used for irrigation.

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