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 28, 2013

The Bureau of Reclamation will increase releases from Flaming Gorge Dam beginning on or around Wednesday May 29, 2013 for up to 10 days as part of a cooperative experimental program to benefit endangered razorback sucker in the Green River below the dam. Flows will increase from an average of 820 cubic-feet-per second to powerplant capacity of 4,600 cfs.

Scientists have been monitoring the critical habitat to detect the first emergence of larval razorback sucker as a "trigger" to increase Flaming Gorge Dam releases as part of an experiment being implemented by Reclamation in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program to transport as many larval fish as possible.

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 river at flows at or above 8,300 cfs, which is the targeted flow this year with the dry hydrology. The increased releases from the dam combined with the Yampa River flows will provide the maximum possible flow to transport the larval fish.

Current projections are for the Yampa River to reach at least 8,200 cfs this Wednesday May 29. The projected peak at Jensen, Utah, resulting from the combined flows of the Yampa River and Flaming Gorge is approximately 12,000 cfs. The combined target flow of 8,300 cfs at Jensen, Utah may not be reached if flows in the Yampa River fall below 4,000 cfs. If that occurs, Reclamation may increase releases above powerplant capacity to maintain the target flow.

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.