Program extended to save 4 fish species
Efforts to rescue the endangered fish of the Colorado River Basin will continue through 2023, federal and state officials decided.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the governors of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming signed agreements extending the program, the Interior Department said Thursday.
The Upper Colorado River Basin Endangered Species Recovery Program was established in 1998 as a voluntary, cooperative effort aimed at allowing the continued development of the Colorado River for agricultural, municipal and electricity-generation purposes while working for the recovery of the endangered bonytail chub, humpback chub, Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker.
“When this program began 21 years ago, it was the first conservation initiative of its kind,” Salazar said in a statement. “Never before had such a broad group of state and federal agencies come together formally to work side by side with water users, power customers and environmental organizations.”
The program has resulted in the construction of fish passages along the Colorado and Gunnison rivers in Mesa County, allowing the razorback and pikeminnow in particular to access waters they populated before the turn of the 20th century.
There are signs of recovery of the endangered species, the Interior Department said. Hatchery-raised, stocked razorback sucker are spawning, and there is evidence that their larvae are surviving, the Interior Department said in a statement.
Colorado pikeminnow and humpback chub populations in some cases are increasing, and stocked bonytail are being recaptured in several locations throughout the Green and upper Colorado rivers, the statement said.