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September 15, 2004                                                Amelia Orton-Palmer, 303-236-8179

 Service Seeks Public Comments on Proposal to Improve Trout Habitat on the East Fork Sevier River in the Kingston Canyon Wildlife Management Area

 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is seeking public comment on a draft environmental assessment of a Utah’s proposed “Stream Restoration and Trout Habitat Enhancement on the East Fork Sevier River on the Kingston Canyon Wildlife Management Area in Piute County, Utah.” Public comments are welcome for a 30-day period.   Comments will be accepted until October 15, 2004.

 In 2001, Utah Governor Michael O. Leavitt initiated the Blue Ribbon Fisheries Program with the purpose of creating more opportunities to anglers for quality fishing experiences in aesthetically pleasing settings where the waters are environmentally productive and sustain healthy fish populations.  The Blue Ribbon Fisheries Council identified the East Fork Sevier River as a Blue Ribbon Fishery stream. As a result of this program, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (Division) purchased land along the East Fork Sevier River for the Kingston Canyon Wildlife Management Area and opened it up to public angling and recreation. 

 Much of the East Fork Sevier River supports good quality habitat for brown trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout, with the exception of the proposed project site.  The upper stretch of the project site was channelized in the 1940s and now consists of a relatively straight riffle, providing poor fish habitat.  The original abandoned stream channel no longer has year-round water flow and does not support suitable wetland breeding habitat for amphibians and birds.  Previous overgrazing by livestock along the downstream stretch has resulted in severely eroding stream banks, lacking riparian vegetation.  The channel has become wide and shallow and provides poor fish habitat.  The Division proposes to address these problems with the stream restoration project.

 The draft environmental assessment, prepared by the Division and the Service, analyzes the Division’s proposal to conduct stream restoration and fish and wildlife habitat enhancement activities on 3,565 feet of the East Fork Sevier River, 5.5 miles below Otter Creek Reservoir and 8.5 miles above Piute Reservoir.  For Phase 1 of the project, the Division proposes to recreate meanders in a 1,365-foot channelized section of stream, increasing stream length to 1,730 feet.  The Division also would restore floodplains, install in-stream structures to protect stream banks and create fish habitat, and restore riparian vegetation by seeding and planting to stabilize banks and create wildlife habitat.  The Division would also install a pipe to restore year-round water flow to abandoned channel wetlands and excavate a backwater area filled with sediment to recreate wetland habitat for young trout and native minnows and breeding waterfowl, songbirds, and amphibians.  For Phase 2, the Division would stabilize severely eroding banks for 2,200 feet downstream, as well as install in-stream structures, build floodplains, and restore riparian vegetation.

 The draft environmental assessment identifies five alternatives to consider for addressing riparian and aquatic habitat degradation and loss in this stretch of the East Fork Sevier River:

  • Conduct Phases 1 and 2 as described above.

  • Conduct Phases 1 and 2 as described above, but without installing a pipeline to restore year-round water flow to the abandoned stream channel and without excavating a backwater area in the old side channel.

  • Conduct only Phase 1 in the upper stretch of the stream and eliminate Phase 2 for the lower stretch.

  •  Eliminate Phase 1, but conduct Phase 2 over both stretches of the stream.

  • No project would take place and the current conditions would remain in place.

Detailed information on each alternative is contained in the draft environmental assessment. 

The estimated total cost of the proposed project would be about $300,000.  The Division proposes to provide 25% of the cost as a match for the 75% to be provided by a federal grant under the Sport Fish Restoration Act. The federal funds are administered by the Service and come from an excise tax on fishing equipment, import duties on tackle and boats, motorboat fuels, and small engine fuel.

 Public comment on the proposal and draft environmental assessment will help the Service decide whether to fund the proposed project.  The Service also must determine the proposed project’s eligibility for federal funding, assess its character and design, and ensure compliance with federal rules and regulations.  

Copies of the draft environmental assessment, which include details of the Division’s proposed action, alternative actions and decisions to be made by the Service, are available online at by clicking on the title of the document at  Those without internet access may request copies by calling the Services’ Division of Federal Assistance at 303-236-5420.  Send comments to: Chief, Division of Federal Assistance, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver, CO   80225.   Comments will be accepted until October 15, 2004.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses nearly 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.  

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