Bureau of Reclamation Banner
Upper Colorado Region
Salt Lake City, Utah
Media Contact:
Don Merrill
(801) 379-1074
Peter Crookston
(801) 379-1152

Released On: November 15, 2005

Reclamation Releases Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam
Reclamation's Provo Area Office announced today the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam. The FEIS document, prepared with the cooperation of eight state and federal agencies, describes the potential effects of modifying the operation of Flaming Gorge Dam to assist in the recovery of four endangered fish and their critical habitat downstream from the dam. The four endangered fish species are Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), humpback chub (Gila cypha), razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), and bonytail (Gila elegans).

The purpose of the proposed action analyzed in the FEIS is to operate Flaming Gorge Dam to protect and assist in recovery of the populations and designated critical habitat of the four endangered fishes, while maintaining all authorized purposes of the Flaming Gorge Unit of the Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP), particularly those related to the development of water resources in accordance with the Colorado River Storage Compact.

The FEIS document describes and analyzes the potential effects of two alternatives. Under the No Action Alternative, operations under the conditions imposed by the 1992 Biological Opinion would continue. Under the Action Alternative, operations would be in accordance with the flow and temperature regimes described in the Flow and Temperature Recommendations for Endangered Fish in the Green River Downstream of Flaming Gorge Dam published in September 2000 by the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program (Recovery Program).

Reclamation proposes to take action to protect and assist in the recovery of the populations and designated critical habitat of the four endangered fishes found in the Green and Colorado River Basins. Reclamation would implement the proposed action by modifying the operations of Flaming Gorge Dam, to the extent possible, to achieve the flows and temperatures recommended by participants of the Recovery Program. Reclamation's goal is to implement the proposed action and, at the same time, maintain and continue all authorized purposes of the CRSP.

The recommended flows and temperatures are intended to provide water releases of sufficient magnitude and, with the proper timing and duration, to assist in the recovery of the endangered fishes and their designated critical habitat.

The Draft EIS on the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam was issued to the public in early September 2004. During the 60-day public review period, five public hearings were held and over 600 written and oral public comments were received. All comments received were carefully reviewed and considered in preparing the FEIS. Where appropriate, revisions were made to the document in response to specific comments. The comments and responses, together with the FEIS, will be considered in determining whether or not to implement the proposed federal action.

No decision will be made on the proposed federal action until at least 30 days after release of the FEIS. After the 30-day waiting period, Reclamation will complete a Record of Decision. The Record of Decision will state which alternative analyzed in the final document will be implemented and discuss all factors leading to that decision. As stated in the FEIS, the Action Alternative is the preferred alternative.

Copies of the EIS are available from Mr. Peter Crookston, Flaming Gorge EIS Manager, PRO-774, Bureau of Reclamation, Provo Area Office, 302 East 1860 South, Provo, Utah 84606-7317; telephone (801) 379-1152; faxogram (801) 379-1159; email: fgeis@uc.usbr.gov. The EIS is also available on Reclamation's web site.

Flaming Gorge Dam, located on the Green River in northeastern Utah about 200 miles east of Salt Lake City, is an authorized storage unit of the CRSP. Flaming Gorge Dam was completed in 1962 and full operation of the dam and reservoir began in 1967. The powerplant, located at the base of the dam, began commercial operation in 1963 and was completed in 1964. Reclamation operates the dam and powerplant and the Western Area Power Administration markets the power.

# # #
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.