Statement of Michael L. Connor, Commissioner
U.S. Department of the Interior
Natural Resources Committee
Subcommittee on Water and Power
U.S. House of Representatives
Bureau of Reclamation Fish Recovery Programs Reauthorization Act
September 22, 2009
Madam Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Mike Connor, Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation). I am pleased to be here today to provide the views of the Department of the Interior (Department) on HR 2288, the "Bureau of Reclamation Fish Recovery Programs Reauthorization Act." The Department supports HR 2288.
The Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program (Programs) share the dual goals of recovering populations of endangered fish while water development continues to meet current and future human needs. Program actions provide Endangered Species Act compliance for more than 1,600 federal, tribal, and non-federal water projects depleting more than 3 million acre-feet of water per year in the Colorado and San Juan rivers and their tributaries. The Programs, authorized by Public Law 106-392, as amended, were established under cooperative agreements in 1988 (Upper Colorado) and 1992 (San Juan). Program partners include the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming; the Bureau of Reclamation, Western Area Power Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs; Native American tribes; environmental organizations; water users; and power customers.
Public Law 106-392 authorized the use of $6 million per year (indexed for inflation) of Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP) hydropower revenues from Glen Canyon Dam and other CRSP facilities to support the base funding needs of the Programs through 2011. Base funding is used for program management, scientific research, fish population monitoring, fish stocking, control of non-native fish, and operation and maintenance of capital projects. The bill, as introduced, would simply extend the authorization to utilize CRSP hydropower revenues at the current level (up to $6 million per year adjusted for inflation, or approximately $7 million in 2009 dollars) through 2023 to support the base funding needs of both Programs.
These Programs have been nationally recognized for their cooperative approach to recovering aquatic native fish species, avoiding litigation, and providing Endangered Species Act compliance to federal and non-federal water users. Reauthorization for the continued use of CRSP hydropower revenues is critical to the ability of these Programs to realize their goals. There appears to be strong support for this legislation from the Program's non-federal stakeholders. The Department notes that we are continuing to analyze the proposed legislation and its potential effect on overall Federal budgetary resources.
That concludes my prepared remarks. I would be pleased to answer any questions.