The Prairie Dog Creek watershed begins approximately 15 miles
south of Sheridan and flows north to its confluence with the
Tongue River near the Montana border. The watershed comprises
approximately 236,000 acres. The major tributaries in this
watershed are Meade, Jenks, Jim, SR, Arkansas, Coutant, Wildcat
and Dutch Creeks.
The Prairie Dog watershed supports irrigated as well as dryland
agriculture, however, cattle production is the primary agricultural
industry in the watershed. In the 1880's three significant trans-basin
water diversions were built. These diversions were built to divert
water from North Piney Creek into the Prairie Dog watershed. While
these diversions opened up thousands of acres for irrigation, they
have created an unnatural hydrologic condition. Because of the
steepness of the slope of the upper portion of the watershed near the
diversions and the unstable substrate, these diversions created areas
of significant erosion, which led to stream downcutting, sediment
accumulation and visual impairments.
Prairie Dog Creek is currently on the Department of Environmental Quality's
(DEQ) "Needs to be Monitored" list. The creek has already been monitored
by DEQ and monitoring results have been analyzed. Prairie Dog Creek will
not be listed as a waterbody requiring a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)
but will remain on the "Needs to be Monitored" list.
RECOMMENDED LEGISLATIVE ACTION:
The WWDC recommends the project be incorporated in the New Development
Program at Level I with an appropriation of $100,000.