Reclamation to Release High Flows From Flaming Gorge Dam to Assist in Scientific Studies of Endangered Fish in Green River

Media Contact: Barry Wirth, 801-524-3774
Stacey Carroll, 801-524-3813

For Release: May 13, 2005

The Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) will release water through the river outlet works at Flaming Gorge Dam on the Green River in Utah to accommodate a series of short-term endangered fish experiments. The flows will enable scientists working with the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program (Recovery Program) to monitor the effect of high flows downstream of the dam.

Green River flow levels of 14,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), 16,000 cfs, and 18,000 cfs, measured at Jensen, Utah, have been requested by the Recovery Program scientists. In order to reach this level, Reclamation will likely have to release water at the full capacity of the Flaming Gorge Powerplant and the river outlet works. Releases from the dam could reach approximately 8,500 cfs. Releases will combine with flows from the Yampa River to likely achieve the requested flow levels.

Reclamation is currently monitoring the Yampa River and waiting for the most prominent peak to occur. Reclamation will begin making powerplant capacity, and possibly bypass releases, when this occurs. It is likely that these test releases could begin within the next two weeks. On average, the Yampa River historically peaks May 23.

Recreational uses of the river should not be impacted. The river launch ramp below the dam at Little Hole and Indian Crossing will remain open.

In addition to the fish studies, it is hoped that high flows will also move sediment out of the river below the dam that has impacted the high-value trout habitat. That sediment came into the river because of erosion following the large Mustang Fire several years ago. Scientists also are interested in observing the impacts of high flows on the New Zealand mud snail, a source of increasing concern in the river.

Recovery Program scientists will be releasing fish larvae and neutrally buoyant beads - which simulate fish larvae - into the Green River at specific flow levels, and then recapturing the beads at various key locations downstream. The information obtained will be valuable in better understanding the role and function of flooded habitats in endangered fish recovery, including the drift of larvae into backwater habitats. It will also provide information on the effectiveness levees breeches that provide access for endangered fish to floodplain nursery resistant habitats.

Flaming Gorge Reservoir is expected to come within 16 feet of refilling at the completion of the spring runoff period this July.

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