There’s nothing fishy about these accolades
In the midst of the driest irrigation season in a decade, with concerns about whether there would be enough water for fields, orchards and vineyards, worries about endangered fish aren’t likely to be a top priority for irrigation companies.
Even so, a number of local irrigation organizations did, indeed, consider the ramifications of their operations on endangered fish in a key section of the Colorado River through the Grand Valley last summer. They voluntarily took action to help protect Colorado pikeminnows, razorback suckers and bonytail and humpback chubs. This week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledged their efforts in letters to the groups.
The federal agency specifically recognized the Orchard Mesa Irrigation District, Grand Valley Irrigation Company and Grand Valley Water Users Association for implementing a number of measures to protect the fish and to help ensure there was sufficient water to support them in the critical 15-mile stretch of the Colorado River from Palisade to the confluence with the Gunnison River.
The Fish and Wildlife Service also recognized the Palisade Irrigation District and Redlands Water and Power Co. for their efforts to maintain and improve endangered fish passages in the Colorado and Gunnison rivers.
The story of protecting endangered fish in this area has been, for nearly two decades, one of cooperation and partnership among federal and state government agencies and local water entities. Kudos to all of the irrigation organizations involved for continuing those cooperative efforts and for recognizing that even in a very dry year, there are ways to continue to protect endangered fish.