Save Lake Desmet
Lake DeSmet: Just the Facts
As one of only two large water reservoirs in Northeast Wyoming available for recreation, Lake DeSmet is a unique treasure for the local communities of Sheridan and Buffalo and visitors from across the region. The lake's multiple use focus is critical to agriculture, and supports fishing, recreation, and industry.
An Opportunity for Sustainability:
Game & Fish Department Lease
The lake's management body-the Lake DeSmet Counties Coalition Joint Powers Board-has approached the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to lease a small portion of the lake's water necessary to sustain fisheries. The lease would protect one of the most important fisheries and water recreation resources in the region while still allowing for the lease or sale of ample water for industrial uses. Minimum water levels in the lake could drop as much as 50 feet without this protection. If this happened, the area of exposed shoreline would roughly equal the area of the water surface. This would risk the significant local revenue that is generated from the lake's recreation industry.
According to the Game and Fish Department, recreation at Lake DeSmet generates $2.4 million per year and supports 35,000 anglers and boaters.
In addition to ensuring that fishing opportunities would continue well into the future, the proposed 99-year lease would provide $2.9 million up front for investment to help fund the annual operation and maintenance expenses of the lake. Reliable funding for these activities has been difficult to find. Under the terms of the lease the Game and Fish Department would manage the shoreline and its attendant conflicts, for which that agency is uniquely equipped.
The Game and Fish lease would also strengthen other storage rights in the lake. The result is a net reduction of only 7,400 Acre Feet in the driest year - only about 10% of the total firm annual yield.