Wyoming rancher wants to make desert bloom
"I'm not an engineer but I'm just saying if you want to make use of the water, you have to irrigate with it," Taliaferro said.
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"It might come across that if we have enough water to do that, why should we oppose sending our water cross country?" Bailiff said.
The drought was also a factor in the commissioners' reluctance to endorse the proposal.
Members of the Wyoming Legislature's Select Water Committee took no action after hearing the proposal during a meeting in June.
A prominent Sweetwater County sheep rancher is curious about whether a pipeline from the Green River that would flow part of Wyoming's share of water stored in Fontenelle Reservoir could turn semi desert into agricultural use land.
The state Water Development Commission is scheduled to discuss the proposal at its November meeting in Casper, according to Director Harry LeBonte.
Taliaferro said he has shown that irrigation can turn the sagebrush land into productive agriculture land.
said if we cannot use it in the Green River Basin, why not put it in the Sweetwater River and send it down the Platte to Eastern Wyoming, which could use it," he said.
He said he grows hay on 700 to 800 acres of his private land, which is irrigated with water piped from the Green River. Taliaferro also uses the irrigated land for pasture.
He's asking state officials to find out.
"All it was was a study," he said.
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Wyoming controls 120,000 acre feet of water stored in Fontenelle Reservoir on the Green River. The reservoir is administered by the federal Bureau of Reclamation. Of that amount, the state has contracts to sell 46,550 acre feet to four companies Church and Dwight, PacifiCorp, Exxon and SSF Phosphates.
Neither did a majority of the Sweetwater County Board of Commissioners.
Taliaferro said the land that could be irrigated supports only sagebrush and requires seven to eight acre feet to support one cow for one month.
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Gary Bailiff, chairman of the commission, said one concern was that their approval might encourage outsiders who want to move Green River water to the Colorado Front Range.
He estimates 60,000 acres of private land below the Fontenelle Reservoir is less than 6,400 feet in elevation and therefore is suitable for irrigation by water from the Green River.
There also was concern about future water demands from the trona mines and from Granger, Rock Springs and Green River.
to beneficial use and, as a result, keep it from heading downstream to such water short states as California and Nevada.
This isn't Taliaferro's first foray into proposing increased use of Wyoming's share of the Green River. He was chairman of the Green River Basin Committee years ago when the group attempted to find a way to use the water within the basin.
Taliaferro and former Wyoming Wool Growers Association Executive Director Bryce Reece have been trying to muster support for a feasibility study by the Wyoming Water Development Commission. Reece is now a government affairs and natural resources consultant.
Taliaferro said the state could take the water away from agriculture if cities and towns need it in the years ahead.
in the state," he said.
Yet Bailiff said he personally Nike Cortez Blue Hero saw no problem with studying the feasibility of a pipeline.
The state's share is also used for municipal needs.
"It doesn't have any water today. Agriculture could tie up those water rights for the future," Taliaferro said.
Interestingly, Taliaferro and Reece have received support from Aaron Million of Fort Collins, Colo. Million's plan to divert some of Colorado's compact allocation of water from the Green River and Flaming Gorge Reservoir to Colorado's Front Range is currently on hold. That plan has been widely denounced in Wyoming.
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