Yellowstone flooding leaves uncertainty for farmers and ranchers in heavy-hit areas

Eric Young

The recent flooding along the Yellowstone River has left major questions for Montana’s largest industry.

Lost equipment and livestock on top of rising diesel, fertilizer and seed prices have put Carbon County farmers and ranchers in tougher-than-usual circumstances while looking at the months ahead.

Rancher Scott Fleur owns land next to the Orchard Canal headgate outside of Bridger. The headgate broke out last week during the flooding and caused extensive damage to his property and the canal.

The influx of water stopped just short of his shop and home, but agricultural infrastructure including a private bridge over the canal, silos, a truck and a sedan were lost due to damages. His alfalfa crops weren’t excessively damaged, but were exposed to silt and brush from the river, rendering them unable to harvest.

Fleur also raises chicken and cattle. Most of the chickens drowned in his coup when the water washed over while the lost bridge left him unable to reach his cattle.

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“We were okay for the river flooding,” Fleur said. “We weren’t prepared for this.”

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