Feds eye changes to Colorado River endangered fish conservation program

Recovery team eyes White River Basin

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The Colorado pikeminnow is one of four endangered species that could benefit from a proposed new plan to boost flows during critical seasons. Photo courtesy USFWS.

By Summit Voice

*More Summit Voice stories on the Colorado River native fish conservation program are online here.

FRISCO — State and federal biologists are considering some changes to the Colorado River Native Fish Recovery Program in the White River Basin after a discussion with stakeholders.

The endangered fish — colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, razorback sucker, bonytail — are already protected in the White River Basin, according to The Nature Conservancy. The changes would be a firming up of management expectations.

A similar approach has been used in other basins to ensure that current and future water needs are met for people and endangered fish.  The White River management plan aims to:

  • identify existing and some level of future water depletions;
  • develop current hydrology and projected depletions to identify the effects of past and future water development on endangered fish habitat;
  • identify the role of the White River in recovery of endangered fish;
  • identify flow recommendations for endangered fish habitat in the White River; and
  • identify a broad range of recovery actions to be carried out by the Recovery Program to support a recovered endangered fish population in the White River. 

A federal-state cooperative (or similar) agreement to implement the resulting management plan will constitute a “federal action” that would become the basis for Section 7 consultation under the Endangered Species Act. This consultation is expected to culminate in a White River Programmatic Biological Opinion.

The biological opinion would provide additional certainty for Endangered Species Act compliance from existing and future water projects in the White River basin. (A similar document developed in 2005 for the Yampa River is found at: http://www.coloradoriverrecovery.org/documents-publications/section-7-consultation/yampa-river-pbo.html).

The Recovery Program anticipates additional public meetings will be held as the plan develops during 2014 and 2015.

The recovery team had scheduled public meetings in Craig, Vernal and Rangely just before the government shutdown; because of the program’s funding sources, the meetings will proceed as scheduled. Many of the personnel working with the recovery program have been deemed exempt from the shutdown.

  • Vernal: October 15 at 7 p.m., Department of Natural Resources Building, 318 North Vernal Avenue;
  • Craig: October 16 at 6 p.m., Yampa/White Roundtable, American Legion Shadow Mtn. Clubhouse, 1055 County Road 7;
  • Rangely: October 17 at 7 p.m., Colorado Northwestern Community College, 500 Kennedy Drive, Weiss Room.

For more information about the meetings, please contact:  Jana Mohrman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Phone: 303-969-7322, extension 268; email: jana_mohrman@fws.gov. More details on the proposed management plan may be found at:  http://www.coloradoriverrecovery.org/documents-publications/work-plan-documents/sow/14-15/isf/168.pdf. If for any reason you are unable to access this website, please contact Jana Mohrman, jana_mohrman@fws.gov.

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2 Responses

  1. The meetings will proceed as scheduled.

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