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Biological Opinion on the Central Arizona Project Completed
Southwest Region, May 15, 2008
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On May 15, 2008, reinitiation of formal consultation was competed  with the Bureau of Reclamation on transportation and delivery of Central Arizona Project water to the Gila River Basin in Arizona and New Mexico.  The biological opinion addresses the effects to listed fish and the Chiricahua leopard frog from the introduction and spread of nonindigenous aquatic species through the CAP.  The reinitated BO addresses effects to listed species in the the Santa Cruz basin (a tributary to the Gila River), which were not included in the previous consultations on the listed species in the Gila Basin. Staff had developed a separate draft jeopardy BO for the Gila topminnow in the Santa Cruz Basin; in this reinitiated BO, and were able to include the effects in the Santa Cruz Basin after revolving the jeopardy issues with Bureau of Reclamation. The reinitiated BO also covers the Gila chub and its designated critical habitat and the Chiricahua leopard frog, as well as the spikedace, Gila topminnow, razorback sucker, and loach minnow, which were considered in the two previous consultations on this issue (1994, 2001).

As a continuation of the previous BOs, Reclamation included several significant conservation measures in their proposed action.  Included are measures to minimize the threat from nonindigenous aquatic species and to recover listed fishes in lieu of threat removal: 1) construction and operation of barriers to upstream fish movement; 2) monitoring of fishes; 3) funding for conservation of native fishes; 4) funding for control and management against nonindigenous fishes; and 5) information and education.  In addition, Reclamation added a conservation measure to fund a Chiricahua leopard frog "head start" program and provide for other conservation actions.  Conservation measures 3 and 4 have been referred to as the CAP Fund Transfer Program (now Gila River Basin Native Fishes Conservation Program).  This ongoing program has made major contributions to the conservation and recovery of native fishes in Arizona and New Mexico in the Gila River basin, and will continue to do so.  The program is in its eleventh year, and Reclamation has committed to contributing $550,000 a year for 19 more years (30 total).

The most significant hurdle in completing the BO was determining a measure for incidental take of listed aquatic species from the impacts of nonindigenous species.  Staff constructed an incidental take statement that they believe is defensible, is tied to the proposed action, is measurable, and does not jeopardize the species.  The ITS was written with significant input from Reclamation and the DOI-SOL.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov



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