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Judge Asked to Lift Hold on Yellowstone Irrigation Dam

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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. government attorneys are asking a federal judge to lift an injunction blocking a proposed Yellowstone River irrigation dam that wildlife advocates say could doom an endangered fish.

Federal agencies want to begin construction on the $57 million project in July. They said in court documents filed Wednesday night that further delay could result in a loss of funding.

The dam would divert irrigation water for 55,000 acres of croplands in Montana and North Dakota. It would include a fish bypass channel so that decades-old pallid sturgeon could reach upstream spawning grounds.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris blocked construction two years ago, saying federal agencies hadn't shown the bypass would work.

Federal officials concluded after further study that the bypass channel is the sturgeon's best hope. Fisheries scientists have doubts.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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