Reclamation Dedicates Minnow Sanctuary

Media Contact: Mary Perea Carlson, (505) 462-3576

For Release: October 31, 2008

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today joined the Bureau of Reclamation and its partners in dedicating a new facility providing habitat for the Rio Grande silvery minnow.

The idea for the Minnow Sanctuary, nestled under the cottonwoods of the Rio Grande bosque in southwest Albuquerque, was brought to Reclamation by Senator Domenici in 2003 as all parties looked for ways to sustain the habitat for the endangered silvery minnow.

"I have always believed that our efforts would be much more successful if we would work together to bring the minnow to the water, rather than the water to the minnow. This facility will make that possible, and I am glad to finally see it so near completion. I appreciate the cooperation between parties that has gotten us to this point, and look forward to coming back in a few months to see the sanctuary in operation," Senator Domenici said.

The facility is set to begin test operations in January.

"The Bureau of Reclamation and our partners on this project are grateful to Senator Domenici for first bringing this vision to Reclamation and then for his support for this project," said Bureau of Reclamation Albuquerque Area Manager John Poland.

The facility will be operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Funding for the operation and maintenance is coming from the Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program. The partnership was organized to protect and improve the status of endangered species in the Middle Rio Grande while protecting existing and future water uses.

The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District is providing the water for operation of the minnow sanctuary from the Albuquerque Riverside Drain. The city of Albuquerque through its Open Space Program has provided site work and support at the site.

Like the facility already in operation at the Rio Grande Biological Park and the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission's Los Lunas Refugium, the sanctuary will mimic river conditions. However, this sanctuary is designed to be a step closer to natural conditions with natural sand and rock channels. The gates and fish screens will allow fish and eggs to be held in the channel away from predator fish and eventually released directly back into the river. The total cost for the project is approximately $4 million.

"This project is considered an essential component for successful protection of the Rio Grande silvery minnow," Poland said.

# # #

Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.