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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

March 5, 1999
Susan Moyer (970) 243-2778
Sharon Rose (303) 236-7917, 415

DRAFT BIOLOGICAL OPINION FINDS RECOVERY ACTIONS FOR COLORADO RIVER ENDANGERED FISH WILL OFFSET IMPACT OF HISTORIC AND SOME NEW WATER DEPLETION'S

Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a preliminary draft biological opinion that addresses how funding and recovery actions taken by the Service and the Bureau of Reclamation have and will impact four endangered Colorado River fish. After many years of evaluation and discussions with various water interests in the State, the Service finds that the funding and recovery actions being taken to protect and enhance the Colorado pikeminnow (formerly known as the Colorado squawfish), humpback chub, bonytail chub, and the razorback sucker will offset the impact of historic and some new water depletion's. The Service finds that these recovery actions will help provide a greater of certainty for water development.

The opinion, which addresses about 1.2 million acre feet of existing depletion's and future new depletion's of 120,000 acre feet.

"It is because of the tremendous efforts of the recovery program, that many projects continue without a glitch," said Ralph Morgenweck, Regional Director for the Mountain-Prairie Region. "Many small water users often don’t even realize that the recovery program has been involved with their project because everything falls in place and the project is put into action. The Recovery Program has benefited a great many audiences without their knowledge," Morgenweck added.

Over 200 consultations covering over 500 water depletion's similar to these have been resolved as a result of the Colorado Recovery Program. In place for 11 years and involving a tremendous variety of water users, including three states, environmental groups, water development interests, and federal agencies, the Colorado Recovery Program has continued to work together to better use one of the most valuable, but limited resource in our Nation---the Colorado River.

Some of the actions being taken to help recover these fish include augmenting low flows in the river, improving habitat for the fish, fish passages to restore habitat in areas where fish historically lived, stocking endangered fish, minimizing impacts of nonnative fish, and monitoring the status of the humpback chub, razorback sucker, Colorado pikeminnow, and the bonytail chub.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprising more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries 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 wildlife agencies.


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