BIGHORN COUNTY — The Afterbay ramp at the Afterbay river launch is a popular launch site on the Bighorn River.
On a busy morning you can look down river and often see 10 or more drift boats moving along the river.
The end of the ramp has received significant damage from both water erosion and breakage. There is a jagged ramp edge and significant drop off to the river. During low river levels, launching can be challenging.
The ramp is being repaired in October through collaboration between Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP), the Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service (NPS), and the Bighorn River Alliance.
Reclamation will lower river levels if needed for a short time on the first day, October 7, to allow the NPS time to place a coffer dam around the work site to keep out water.
Reclamation will then maintain river levels at the approximate winter release rate which is projected to be between 2200 and 3200 cubic feet per second.
The goal is to maximize habitat protection as much as possible while allowing the project to move forward to improve access.
“The river levels allow this year’s young trout to stay in side channel habitat as long as possible,” said Mike Ruggles, FWP Fisheries Biologist.
FWP and the NPS are sharing costs for this project. Bighorn River Alliance will be helping with outreach and traffic control during the project.
The project will affect launching from October 7 to October 19. During this time a temporary, primitive graveled launch area north of the ramp will be available as a single lane launch.
Parking in this area will be limited to single vehicle parking.
Vehicles with trailers will be asked to use the overflow parking.
Anglers using the area should expect delays and traffic control and may want to consider using the Three Mile access as an alternative.
“The concerns over the condition of the ramp were brought to me during a public meeting we hosted in Hardin in June. I am glad that we are able to work with our partners to make the needed repairs,” said Bighorn Canyon Superintendent Mike Tranel.
“We are excited to see this work through to completion and happy to see the collaboration to get it done. It has been on our list for a while,” said Anne Marie Emery, Executive Director Bighorn of the River Alliance