DRAFT Environmental Assessment for the Colorado River Recovery Programs

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DRAFT Environmental Assessment for the Colorado River Recovery Programs

The Colorado River Recovery Programs are collaborative Endangered Species Act (ESA) compliance mechanisms that have been working well for more than three decades, serving as a model of effective ESA implementation. The partnerships have made important progress in species recovery, as demonstrated by the reclassification of humpback chub and proposed reclassification of razorback sucker from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’ status. 

The partnerships provide compliance for Bureau of Reclamation’s facilities, Bureau of Indian Affairs supporting irrigation infrastructure, hydropower generation, and over 2500 water projects in the Intermountain-West. The integrated nature of the agreement means that all parties collectively support and advocate for the benefits that are offered to any particular partner.  The programs have supported a litigation-free environment for all parties for over 30 years. 

The draft EA continues the programs through cooperative agreement past 2024 and has undergone extensive reviews by recovery program partners.  The EA covers the coordination that occurs to further actions that the programs take within the seven elements of recovery: instream flow, habitat, nonnative fish, propagation, outreach, research/monitoring, program management. Any projects that involve substantial on the ground impacts conducted by the Recovery Programs receive their own NEPA analysis as they occur. Continuation of the recovery programs is supported by all partners as detailed in the EA.

 The Service has evaluated effects and alternatives associated with continuing the Recovery Programs.  The Recovery Programs are currently authorized through September 2024.  The EA evaluates continuation of the programs through a cooperative agreement between the Department of the Interior, Western Area Power Administration, four Tribes, and four states. Signing the cooperative agreement is the proposed federal action assessed in the EA.

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