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Upper Colorado Region
Salt Lake City, Utah
Media Contact:
Kim Greenwood
(505) 248-5371

Released On: January 27, 2003

Media Advisory - Public Release of Draft Biological Assessment for 2003 and Out-Year Water Operations on the Middle Rio Grande
The Draft Biological Assessment for 2003 and out-year water operations on the Middle Rio Grande (draft BA) will be publicly released at a meeting on Tuesday, January 28, 2003, at 2 p.m. at the NRCS Building located at 6200 Jefferson. The pueblos, tribes, stakeholders, and media are invited to the meeting. Reclamation will use a PowerPoint presentation to highlight events leading up to the development of the draft BA, describe the main points of the draft BA, and answer questions. Reclamation will receive public comments, preferably in writing, until February 7, 2003. The final Biological Assessment will be issued on February 12, 2003.

On September 12, 2002, Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were directed by District Court Judge Parker to carry out a two-track consultation on 2002-2003 and out-year water operations impacting the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow. One track of the consultation was to consider all of the discretion over water deliveries as determined by Judge Parker. The other track was to consider only the discretion over water deliveries as considered by Reclamation prior to Judge Parker's orders. The issue of discretion as outlined in Judge Parker's opinion was appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. These two scenarios should cover any level of discretion that falls between as may be determined by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The draft BA contains an Appendix B that outlines options that Department of the Interior Secretary Norton may consider, in conjunction with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision anticipated to be issued prior to March 1, 2003, when deciding water operations for 2003.

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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.