Box Butte Reservoir

January 19, 2016 daryl bauer

I do not know a lot about this, but I saw a news release just today and there are a bunch of Nebraskans, especially Nebraska anglers, who should be aware of potential dam repairs at Box Butte Reservoir:

Bureau seeking comment for possible dam repairs at Box Butte Reservoir

The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking comment regarding an environmental assessment document for the dam at Box Butte State Recreation Area north of Hemingford. Engineers have identified problems with sedimentation through the dam’s toe drain – a perforated pipe that runs along the base of the earthen dam to collect water from the reservoir’s seepage and move it to the downstream side of the embankment.

The bureau prepared the draft to evaluate environmental consequences of undertaking corrective actions to the dam. The goal is to reduce the risk of dam failure and maintain it at satisfactory levels for its variety of uses.

Among the bureau’s three listed alternatives are to, one, take no action and continue monitoring the dam; two, to replace the toe drain on the dam; and, three, to permanently restrict the reservoir to an elevation of 3,995 feet.

The dam at Box Butte Reservoir, which is situated along the Niobrara River, is used for both irrigation and recreation. As of Jan. 11, its elevation was 3,999 feet – just over 60 percent capacity under current guidelines.

Comments will be received through Feb. 12. They may be sent by mail to the Bureau of Reclamation, Attn: Lucas Milheiser; at 1706 W. 3rd St., McCook, NE 69001. Comments may also be submitted through the online comment portal on the project website,

The document is also available by hard copy by contacting Milheiser at (308) 345-8323.

I cannot tell you what your comments should be, nor do I know enough about the situation right now.  I do know this, Box Butte Reservoir is one of the prettiest reservoirs in Nebraska with excellent water quality, habitat, fish populations and of course fishing.  It is an extremely popular fishery for Nebraskans and many guests to our state.  If you utilize that resource, do not be afraid to learn more and participate in the process.

On a personal note:  I was born in Alliance, Nebraska.  As a young boy, Box Butte Reservoir was the destination for many of my family’s fishing trips.  Some of my earliest fishing memories are of trips taken and fish caught at Box Butte.  I have dried off a few from Box Butte and hope I have the chance to do so again!

My Grandma Bauer with a northern pike that I am pretty sure was caught from Box Butte Reservoir.


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