The Mirage Flats Irrigation Project, authorized under the Water Conservation and Utilization Program was approved by President Roosevelt on April 26, 1940, with an estimated cost of $2,560,000. The main features of the project included Box Butte Dam and Reservoir, Diversion dam, main canal, lateral distribution of approximately 60 miles, drainage system, and land development work. Work was started on January 20, 1941, and labor supply was inadequate at all times. The gate at Box Butte Dam was closed for the first time on October 3, 1945 and storage begun. On July 16, 1946 the first irrigation water was delivered to users on the Sturgeon and Fairfield laterals. Land was purchased for $20.00 per acre.
In broadening the qualifications for eligible settlers, an order of preference was established: 1) those living on the project 2) war veterans 3) families from Sheridan, Box Butte and Dawes Counties, and 4heridan, Box Butte and Dawes Counties, and 4) others.
There are 115 units, with numbers going to 122 but some numbers are missing. Settlement was completed by March 1, 1950. There are 11,662 irrigable acres on the project. The land was sold to the farmers at $70.00 per acre.
The Bureau of Reclamation built the buildings at the headquarters, and in December 1950 an irrigation district was formed and contract signed with the Bureau of Reclamation for a 38 year repayment plan. The final payment to the Bureau was in 1989.]
In March of 1990 the Mirage Flats Irrigation District made an agreement with the Game and Parks for a period of 30 years that the MFID will not release irrigation water below reservoir contents of 2,829 a.f. and as for consideration of water retained in the reservoir there was a one time lump sum payment of $249,530.10 to the District. This agreement brought about major changes to the project; Lateral pipelines were put in, lining put in one mile of our Main Canal, surge valve loaner program, and cost share program.
Today the District employs 5 people: 1 Manager - Brett Skinner, 1 Secretary - Nancy Rasmussen, 2 Ditchriders - Kevin Kelly, and Chris Woodbeck and 1 Maintenance Engineer - Don Hermansen. Many hours of hard work has went into delivering water to the farmers on the Mirage Flats Irrigation District.
On August 25, 2000 a reunion to celebrate our 55th year of running water will be celebrated. Hope to see you there!