Rejuvenating A River
Constructed in 1964, Fontenelle Dam in southwest Wyoming is the first dam on the Green River, a ways up stream from Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Above the dam lies Fontenelle reservoir, the terminus of the longest freestone trout river left in the lower 48. Below the dam, the Green continues on its way south toward Utah. The trout in the Green River below Fontenelle Dam and into the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge have been dubbed the hardest fighting fish in the American West. We agree!
We catch rainbows, browns, cutthroat (Snake River Finespotted and Bonneville), burbot and the Rocky Mountain Whitefish. The Fontenelle Dam boat ramp is our starting point for the full time outfitter operations. 7.3 miles downstream of the dam, you enter the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, which continues for another 35 river miles. The river bottom is like an oasis out in the sage desert. It’s raw, uncut and not for the faint of heart. Truly a special place. We think it’s the best.
Fontenelle Dam Failure
A year after construction, a seep began along side the western spillway of Fontenelle Dam and ended up being a big deal! It took 9 days to draw Fontenelle Reservoir below the seep, allowing the BOR to investigate. For a few days, all the folks along the Green River in Wyoming were in great fear of Fontenelle Dam breaching. Fortunately, it never did!
Quite The Seepage!
The picture above was taken in 1965, you can see the size of the seep in proper scale if you refer to the modern day photo with the boats above this one. Crazy!!
There was a subsequent incident in the 1970s or 1980s that resulted in a concrete cutoff wall being constructed from the crest all along the crest of the dam: cost $40 million.
Refer to https://damfailures.org/case-study/fontenelle-dam/ for more details.