Letter to the Editor

 


Its time now to keep thinking about the potential threat of flooding our North Platte River still possesses. As each year passes without a permanent and more substantial management of the river flow the Town of Saratoga’s risk of flooding only increases. We need to focus on a more permanent solution. The pesky gravel islands just South of the Hwy 130 bridge that keep recurring every few years is the most noticeable condition that most of the town folk can see. This is only one concern the citizens of Togie need to be thinking about. Boozer Creek has now been brought to the attention of the town.

Guy Cameron, Director of Wyoming Homeland Security, said in a spring interview that a breach of this levy could allow 90% of the North Platte River into its creek. Guy also said during this interview that local officials need to stabilize the earthen structure so the erosion does not continue year after year. This does not sound like much of a threat until you research where this water would then flow after breaching this levy. Boozer creek has the potential of flooding part of the town of Saratoga, not only the houses along the river but houses further inland from the river, putting quite a few citizens at risk. A little research by those who doubt this will reveal the original river bed before levies were built. These levies were built to make tie and log floats easer through this part of the river during tie floats to Ft. Steel. These are only two of the most obvious troublesome spots of the North Platte River flow that need serious management.


Department of Environmental Quality is also concerned about how the Blue Ribbon Trout Fishing river is managed by local officials. We have a precious resource here that has made a lot of money for current and former residents of the Platte River Valley. Ranchers, fishing guides, and industries, only to name a very few of the ways people have benefited from the continuous flow of our undammed picturesque river. Its time now to give back and cure some of the wounds that have been inflicted through past outdated procedures. A river management plan has been compiled by local residents that would defiantly be a giant step in the right direction. It involves many years and a lot of hard work. This type of river management that has been introduced to the town of Saratoga has been quite successful on other rivers. A close one that you can see that is a short drive from Saratoga is Steamboat Springs Colorado. The town folk were concerned that their precious Steamboat Spring was degrading and needed some attention. They had an engineering firm come in and present a solution to the degenerating structure around the spring and the river (Yampa) that flowed next to the spring. The town implemented the river management plan and have saved the precious spring and created a better flow of the river through the town of Steamboat. This plan also helped move sediments through the river bed as it flows through Steamboat reducing the possibilities of future flooding. A plus for the town and its residents. Another river in our area that has benefited from a river restoration project is the Deloris River in southern Colorado. It flows through the city of Durango. Their river restoration project is quite aggressive. Not only does it encompass the river where it flows through the city but upstream for several miles. The restoration where it flows through town has created a water park kind of atmosphere. Local boaters and boaters from around the regain have a nice whitewater playground for boaters of all kinds. It is definitely a boost to Durango’s tourism.

I hope the Town of Saratoga can take another look at the River Management Project that has been introduced by Jim States, Trout Unlimited, and other members of the Platte River and Encampment River Valley. They have put together a viable plan. It not only introduces an affordable plan but also a long term solution. During operation Dirt Bag and Double Trouble the cost was quite substantial. The helicopter alone was nine thousand dollars an hour, the other costs were somewhere around a quarter million dollars. This was for a quick fix that was good for one flood season that has already passed. It does nothing for the future except leave behind sand bags that are to be cleaned up by local citizens. This sandbagging is not a permanent fix. We need to find permanent solutions. If the town does not like the present river management that has been proposed then look at a management plan that is more popular. Doing nothing and relying on solutions of the past is not an option because as you can see each year new threats make themselves visible. Lets work together for longer lasting solutions. There are no permanent fixes but there are better options.

Frank Francis

North Las Vegas, Nevada

 

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