HELENA — A federal agency targeted by President Donald Trump for budget cuts next year has only about half the money needed to build a new Yellowstone River dam and a bypass channel meant to save an endangered fish, but it plans to begin construction anyway.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inked a $36 million contract in 2015 with Ames Construction of Burnsville, Minnesota, to build the concrete dam and a channel in Montana for about 125 wild pallid sturgeon to swim to their spawning grounds that are now blocked by an existing rock dam.
The dinosaur-like pallid sturgeon can grow up to 6 feet (1.83 meters) long.
The Corps has secured only $19 million for the project under what’s known as a continuing contract clause, according to project manager Tiffany Vanosdall. The Corps uses the clauses for large civil engineering projects like the dam, with the expectation that Congress will fund the balance in subsequent years to complete the work.