Flows from Flaming Gorge Dam to Increase Temporarily to Benefit Endangered Fish

Media Contact: Lisa Iams, (801) 524-3673
Heather Hermansen, (801) 524-3883

For Release: May 17, 2012

The Bureau of Reclamation will begin increasing releases from Flaming Gorge Dam this weekend as part of a cooperative experimental program to benefit endangered razorback sucker in the Green River below Flaming Gorge Dam. Beginning on or around May 19, 2012, flows will incrementally increase from an average of 1,600 cubic feet per second and reach a combination of powerplant and bypass releases of 6,000 cfs on May 21, 2012. Releases will remain at or above 6,000 cfs for three to five days before decreasing to base flows.

Critical nursery habitat for endangered fish exists in the floodplains along the Green River downstream of the confluence of the Green and Yampa rivers. This nursery habitat connects to the Green River at flows at or above 8,300 cfs, which is the targeted flow this year with the dry hydrology. Reclamation, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program, is implementing experimental releases this year in an effort to time increased releases during the presence of larval endangered fish in the Green River.

Larval detection has occurred and Reclamation is increasing releases at Flaming Gorge Dam to combine with Yampa River flows and provide the highest flows possible to transport larval fish into the nursery habitat. Current projections are for the Yampa River to reach at least 3,700 cfs this Friday, May 18, with potential to reach 4,000 cfs by May 20-21, 2012. The projected peak at Jensen, Utah, resulting from the combined flows of the Yampa River and Flaming Gorge may reach above 9,000 cfs.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has been consulted concerning the impacts of the releases to the rainbow trout fishery below the dam. While releases during this period will make fishing the river more difficult, no adverse impacts to the fishery are expected.

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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.