Groundbreaking for silvery minnow sanctuary

Media Contact: Mary Perea, 505-462-3576

For Release: October 11, 2005

ALBUQUERQUE, N..M. - The Bureau of Reclamation in partnership with the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, Fish and Wildlife Service and City of Albuquerque broke ground Tuesday on a new Minnow Sanctuary nestled under the cottonwoods of the Rio Grande bosque in southwest Albuquerque.

The idea for the sanctuary was brought to the group by Senator Pete Domenici more than two years ago as all parties looked for ways to sustain the habitat for the endangered Rio Grande silvery minnow.

Senator Domenici, along with Interior Department's Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Mark Limbaugh, Fish and Wildlife Service's Southwest Region Acting Director Geoff Haskett, Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Chief Engineer Subhas Shah and Albuquerque Open Space Division Superintendent Matt Schmader turned the first shovels of dirt to launch the process.

Like the facility already in operation at the Rio Grande Biological Park, the sanctuary will mimic river conditions. However, the sanctuary is designed a step closer to natural conditions. The diverse channel will provide a rearing and breeding habitat for the minnow and protection from predator fish near the river.

Gates and fish screens will allow fish and eggs to be held in the channel and eventually released directly back into the river. Releases will be timed according to river conditions.

The construction of the unique protected habitat is considered one of the essential components for successful protection of the silvery minnow.

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