Melons, boats, fish: the new Tusher Dam on the Green

Brian Maffly writes this week about the new Tusher Dam on the Green River, a little diversion structure that diverts water to a bit more than 5,000 acres that apparently grows delicious melons. The old dam was in trouble, and the new one has been crafted to expand the range of natural and societal values attached to a 21st century river:

The initial Tusher plan did not call for a boat passage and river runners quickly mobilized, lobbying for features that would enable boaters to replicate the Green River portion of the 1869 expedition led by John Wesley Powell.

Officials agreed a boat passage was warranted and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL) put up the $153,000 to help cover increased costs….

The new design also features screens to keep fish out of the diversion canals, as well as three fish passages — one for upstream swimmers and two for downstreamers — equipped with readers to count fish that have been injected with tiny electronic tags. This aspect of the project was funded and designed by state and federal wildlife agencies hoping to recover native humpback chub, Colorado pike minnow, razorback sucker and bonytail.