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Ecosystem Restoration

Contact: Dan DuBray, 202-513-0574

Supporting the Department's priority on Ecosystem Restoration is a key underpinning of Reclamation's mission. In order to meet its mission goals, a part of its programs must focus on the protection and restoration of the aquatic and riparian environments influenced by its operations. Ecosystem restoration involves a large number of Reclamation’s activities, including Reclamation's Endangered Species Act recovery programs, which directly address the environmental aspects of the Reclamation mission.

Columbia and Snake River Salmon Recovery Project

The President's FY 2015 budget request for implementation of the Biological Opinions (BiOps for the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) is $17.0 million. The FCRPS is a group of 14 hydropower projects owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Reclamation and operated as a coordinated system. The Bonneville Power Administration markets and distributes the power from these 14 hydropower projects to generate 24 percent of the Pacific Northwest region’s firm electrical energy supply . These three agencies (Bonneville Power Administration, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Reclamation) are collectively known as the Action Agencies. Fifteen listed species of fish are affected by FCRPS operation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) have each issued BiOps; the NOAA Fisheries Reasonable and Prudent Alternative includes a very substantial suite of required actions to ensure that threatened or endangered species are not jeopardized and their designated critical habitats are not adversely modified by the operation of the FCRPS.

In May 2008, NOAA Fisheries issued a new FCRPS BiOp, Upper Snake BiOp, and a Supplemental Comprehensive Analysis. In May 2010, NOAA Fisheries issued a Supplemental FCRPS BiOp. On August 2, 2011, the District Court of Oregon issued an opinion and order finding the 2010 FCRPS BiOp arbitrary and capricious. The 2014 supplemental FCRPS BiOp is the latest BiOp issued in response to litigation associated with previous BiOps. The BiOp represents unprecedented collaboration with States and Tribes in the Columbia River Basin to formulate the Reasonable and Prudent Alternative, this collaboration is slated to continue until 2018.

Klamath Project

The President's FY 2015 budget request for the Klamath Project (Project) is $18.0 million. The Project stores and diverts water to provide irrigation for land in south-central Oregon and parts of north-central California. Originally built in the early 1900s, the Project provides water to approximately 1,400 individual farms and ranches, totaling approximately 200,000 irrigable acres, and contributes to a $325.0 million agriculture-dependent economy in the Upper Klamath Basin. The Project also provides water to approximately 44,300 non-agricultural acres of National Wildlife Refuges. In 2001 and 2010, severe curtailment of water for agricultural use occurred as a result of several years of below average inflows, droughts, and the legal requirements of two Endangered Species Act (ESA) biological opinions (BiOps). This action caused many adverse economic consequences to the Upper Basin's agricultural communities and stimulated efforts to improve water supply reliability, protect fish, and preserve natural resources and ecosystems through the effective use of water.

Under the National Marine Fisheries Service BiOp for ESA-listed Coho salmon, Reclamation must provide minimum flows in the Klamath River downstream of Iron Gate Dam. Reclamation must also sustain surface water elevations in Upper Klamath Lake to protect ESA-listed Lost River and shortnose suckers under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service BiOp.

Reclamation continues to work closely with other Federal agencies and all stakeholders to protect ESA-listed fish while managing water for the needs of agriculture and wildlife refuges and addressing Federal tribal trust responsibilities. Beyond the Department of the Interior, the Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other state and Federal agencies continue to coordinate and prioritize Klamath Basin programs. In December 2013, The Klamath Task Force and Upper Basin Water Group completed work on an agreement in principle on Upper Basin water and economic issues.This is a major first step to address the continuing conflicts over water use in the upper basin.

Middle Rio Grande Project

The President’s FY 2015 budget request for the Middle Rio Grande is $22.7 million to continue operations, maintenance and rehabilitation of project facilities; provide for flood protection; and protection and recovery of the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. Project works are critical to delivering water to nine tribes and pueblos along the river as well as a national wildlife refuge.

The FY 2015 budget for the project includes $7.9 million for the Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Act (ESA) Collaborative Program, composed of sixteen signatories, that establishes a forum as an alternative to litigation, that actively creates, promotes, and provides opportunities for Reclamation’s participation in cooperative efforts with Federal and non-Federal partners to preserve, protect, and improve the status of endangered species while also protecting existing water uses and ensuring compliance with all applicable laws. These collaborative activities include: studies to assess the impact and/or affect Reclamation operation and maintenance and other construction activities have on the endangered Rio Grande Silvery Minnow and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher; ESA coordination and consultation with the Fish and Wildlife Service, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and other stakeholders to obtain environmental clearances for proposed projects; acquisition of supplemental non-Federal water, and pumping from the low flow conveyance channel into the Rio Grande during the irrigation season to provide sufficient water supply for endangered species, irrigation, and water delivery; tasks required in the current Biological Opinion such as, population management, habitat restoration, monitoring and adaptive management, and water quality studies that are supportive of the listed species recovery plans. The project consists of El Vado Dam and Reservoir, three diversion dams, 260 miles of the Rio Grande channel infrastructure, and the 57 mile long Low Flow Conveyance Channel. The diversion dams and 202 miles of canals, 580 miles of laterals, and 405 miles of drains are operated and maintained by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District under contract with the United States.

Lower Colorado River Operations Programs

The FY 2015 President's budget request for the Lower Colorado River Operations Program (LCROP) is $28.3 million. Of this request, $16.2 million is to continue development and continued implementation of the Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (MSCP). This unique program provides long-term Endangered Species Act compliance for both current and future water delivery and diversion, and power production by the Unites States and the water users. This program will provide quality habitat to conserve populations of 26 state and Federal special status species, along the lower Colorado River from Lake Mead to Mexico, including the endangered razorback sucker, bonytail, southwestern willow flycatcher, and Yuma clapper rail. At the end of FY 2015, it is projected that over 3,122 acres of habitat will have been planted or established, with the long-term goal of establishing over 8,100 acres of native cottonwood and willow, marsh, and backwater habitat. The Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Reclamation, also has the unique role of “water master” for the lower Colorado River. The budget for LCROP includes funding for river operations, water service contracting and repayment, decree accounting, and fulfilling the requirements of the Secretary’s role as water master.

Platte River Recovery Implementation Program

The President’s FY 2015 budget request for the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program is $15.1 million. This activity is located in the Platte River Basin in Wyoming, Colorado, and Nebraska.

In late 2006, the Governors of Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming and the Secretary of the Interior entered into the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program (Program). The Program is a collaborative basin-wide program for endangered species in the Central Platte River in Nebraska. The Program addresses habitat for four species: the Whooping Crane, Piping Plover, Interior Least Tern, and Pallid Sturgeon. Under the Program, Reclamation received significant and essential compliance under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for continued operations of the Colorado-Big Thompson and North Platte projects which supply water to Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming irrigators and municipalities. The Program, which began January 1, 2007, is authorized at $317 million, with the Federal share being $157 million (October 1, 2005 price levels). The Program requires that the Federal government provide 50 percent of the Program contributions, with the States providing at least 50 percent of the contributions ($30 million in funding and $130 million in kind, cash-equivalent contributions).

The first increment of this program is scheduled for completion in FY 2020. At the end of September 30, 2012, the project will be approximately 24 percent complete for the Federal cost share portion at October 1, 2011, price levels.

The request continues implementation of the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program to provide ESA compliance for Reclamation projects in the North and South Platte basins. The activities planned include the continuation of the Program’s participation in a water service agreement with the State of Nebraska and the Central Nebraska Public Power & Irrigation District for water from the proposed J-2 Reservoir Project. In addition, other work projects include: 1) Program Land Plan activities for Adaptive Management Plan Experimental Design activities, including sediment augmentation and flow consolidation; 2) Integrated Monitoring & Research Plan activities, including annual whooping crane monitoring during the spring and fall migration seasons, implementation of a whooping crane telemetry tracking project, annual interior least tern and piping plover monitoring (conducted May through August), geomorphology/in-channel vegetation monitoring, and flow-sediment-mechanical "proof of concept" science activities, water quality monitoring, and LiDAR/aerial photography monitoring; and 3) the Adaptive Management Plan Independent Science Review, the preparation of the ISAC's annual report on the Program, and the peer review of up to four of the Program's technical documents.

Upper Colorado Region Recovery Implementation Program

The President’s FY 2015 budget request for the Endangered Species Recovery Implementation Program in the Upper Colorado Region is $5.1 million. This will fund the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins Endangered Fish Recovery Programs. These two recovery programs are intended to go beyond removal of jeopardy to the recovery of four species of endangered fish while allowing the states to develop their full compact water entitlement, in compliance with interstate compacts and various laws. Work focuses on four major areas: 1) Habitat Management - providing and protecting in-stream flows; 2) Habitat Development and Maintenance - fish ladders, fish screens, levee removal, and flooded bottom land restoration; 3) Augmentation and Conservation of Genetic Integrity - propagation facilities, and stocking efforts; and non-native and sport fish management; 4) Conservation of other aquatic and terrestrial endangered species - restoring habitat and enhancing stream flows. The overarching goal of the program is to develop, implement, and sustain a long-term program to take actions for the preservation, conservation, and recovery of endangered, threatened, proposed, and candidate species, resident and/or migratory to habitats within the Upper Colorado River Basin. Continued funding is critical to avoid issues arising in regard to the ability to maintain Endangered Species Act compliance for Federal and non-Federal water resource use in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Central Valley Project, Trinity River Division

The President’s FY 2015 budget request for the Central Valley Project, Trinity River Division totals $16.7. million. Of this amount, $12 million is for the Trinity River Restoration program for the development of a comprehensive monitoring and adaptive management program for fishery restoration and construction of channel rehabilitation projects at various sites along the Trinity River. An additional $2 million from the Central Valley Project Restoration Fund will also be used for this purpose.

In 1984 under P.L. 98-541, Congress enacted the Trinity River Basin Fish and Wildlife Management Act to provide additional authority in order to restore and maintain the fish and wildlife stocks of the Trinity River Basin to those levels existing prior to construction of the CVP Trinity River Division.

Central Valley Project Restoration Fund

The President’s FY 2015 budget request for the Central Valley Project Restoration Fund is $57.0 million. The Fund was authorized in the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act, Title XXXIV of P.L. 102-575. This Fund provides funding from project beneficiaries for habitat restoration, improvement and acquisition, and other fish and wildlife restoration activities within the Central Valley Project (CVP) area of California. Revenues are derived from payments by project beneficiaries and from donations.

Funding will be used for protection, restoration and management of aquatic and riparian habitats throughout the Central Valley, water supplies for wildlife refuges, and water acquisition and other activities to benefit anadromous fish consistent with performance goals, criteria and recommendations in the 2009 Central Valley Project Improvement Act, Program Activity Report (CPAR) and other associated documents. Annual workplans coordinated by Fish and Wildlife Service and Reclamation, in conjunction with Central Valley water users, hydropower representatives, and other interested groups, continues to help ensure efficient and effective implementation of the Act.

California Bay-Delta Restoration

The President’s FY 2015 budget request for California Bay-Delta Restoration is $37.0 million. The Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta (Delta) is a regional, State, and national treasure. It is an integral part of an ecosystem dependent on more than 750 wildlife species and more than 120 species of fish. As a migratory corridor, the Delta hosts two-thirds of the State’s salmon and nearly half of the waterfowl and shorebirds along the Pacific flyway. The Bay-Delta system is critical to California’s economy because the two rivers that flow into the Bay-Delta provide potable water for two-thirds of California’s homes and businesses and irrigate more than 7 million acres of farmland on which 45 percent of the nation’s fruits and vegetables are grown, part of a $28.0 billion agricultural industry. The Federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project play a central, coordinated role in the water management of the Bay-Delta system and throughout California. The CALFED Bay-Delta Program was established in May 1995 to develop a comprehensive long-term plan to address the complex and interrelated problems in the Delta region, tributary watersheds, and delivery areas. The Program’s focus is on conserving and restoring the health of the ecosystem and improving water management. On December 15, 2010, the Interim Federal Action Plan Status Update for the California Bay-Delta: 2011 and Beyond was issued by the six Federal agencies. The updated report urges continued progress toward completion of the California Bay-Delta Conservation Plan and supports major elements of the plan as a promising means of addressing the critical needs of both the Bay-Delta ecosystem and the state’s water delivery structure. The FY 2015 budget requests funding actions that the support the Interim Federal Action Plan. This is the final year of funding authorization. Language is proposed to extend the expiration date to September 30, 2018.