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Released On: March 01, 2004

Interior Agencies Hold Meeting To Discuss Future Of The Silvery Minnow
(Albuquerque, N.M.) -- The Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs today hosted the first in a series of meetings to discuss ways to preserve and recover the endangered silvery minnow and the Southwestern willow flycatcher while balancing the needs of all water users in the Middle Rio Grande Valley.

Representatives from Governor Richardson's office, environmental groups, the Middle Rio Grande pueblos, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and City of Albuquerque officials participated in the meeting.

Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton said, "The issues in the Middle Rio Grande Basin have been a priority since the beginning of my tenure as Secretary and we look forward to engaging with the State, local governments, farmers and the pueblos in searching for collaborative solutions."

"This meeting continues a dialogue that remains necessary for success in the Middle Rio Grande," Norton said. "The silvery minnow issue exemplifies what I call cooperative conservation. The fundamental premise of cooperative conservation is that litigation and conflict are not effective ways to address our nation's natural resource challenges. If we are going to conserve our land and water and the wildlife that depend on them, we must tap into the greatest conservation resource we have - the people who live and work on the land."

The meeting was hosted by the Bureau of Reclamation at its Albuquerque offices. Jack Garner, Reclamation Albuquerque area manager told the group, "Although we remain optimistic we are approaching what may be another dry year. We need to continue to search for solutions that are practical, sustainable and collaborative."

Dale Hall, regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service commented, "A listed species is like the red warning light on your car dashboard - it isn't broken, but it needs attention. Water in the Middle Rio Grande is a long-term challenge that will take a long-term solution -- and that solution must be balanced and collaborative."

Norton concluded, "Collaboration is the best way to avoid conflict while we continue to improve our water management tools and use the best science-based recovery approaches Today's gathering demonstrates that if we are to have success in developing long-lasting water management strategies for all who depend on the Rio Grande for their survival, it is crucial that all interests continue to be represented at the table, including federal, state and local government, Tribes and irrigation districts."

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