Bureau of Reclamation Announces $3.5 Million in Recovery Act Funds for Middle Rio Grande Habitat Restoration near Belen, New Mexico

Media Contact: Joan Moody, 202-208-6416
Lisa Iams, 801-524-3673

For Release: September 08, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Bureau of Reclamation, an agency of the Department of the Interior, announced today that Reclamation's Albuquerque Area Office in New Mexico, has awarded a task order totaling $3.5 million, under an existing contract to Stoven Construction, Inc., of Albuquerque, N.M for construction of habitat improvements in the Isleta Reach of the Middle Rio Grande floodplain downstream of Belen.

The restoration project, which is being done under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will occur on approximately 100 acres of the Rio Grande channel and adjacent wooded area. The project was designed in consultation with the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission under the programmatic responsibility of the Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program.

New side channels, backwater areas, and river bars will be constructed to enhance fish habitat and portions of the floodway will be lowered to improve the hydraulic characteristics of the main channel during high flow periods to encourage native vegetation growth. In addition, exotic vegetation and jetty jacks - steel frame structures once installed along the river banks for stabilization and to create new levees and bosque - will be removed.

"Nearly 11 miles of restoration work will take place under this contract, benefitting both the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow and the Southwest willow flycatcher," Michael L. Connor, Reclamation commissioner said. "Restoring this riparian habitat is essential for the continued survival of these two species."

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was enacted in 2009 provided $3 billion to the Department of the Interior. The ARRA funds represent an important component of the President's plan to jumpstart the economy and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so the country can thrive in the 21st century. Under the ARRA, Interior is making an investment in conserving America's timeless treasures - our stunning natural landscapes, our monuments to liberty, the icons of our culture and heritage - while helping American families and their communities prosper again. Interior is also focusing on renewable energy projects, the needs of American Indians, employing youth and promoting community service.

"With its investments of Recovery Act funds, the Department of the Interior and its bureaus are putting people to work today to make improvements that will benefit the environment and the region for many years to come," Secretary Salazar said.

Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department's economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on www.recovery.gov and on www.interior.gov/recovery. Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force to work closely with Interior's Inspector General and ensure the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency set by President Obama.

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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 www.usbr.gov and follow us on Twitter @USBR.