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header image: Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam Environmental Impact Statement

The Bureau of Reclamation prepared an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the operation of Flaming Gorge Dam. The EIS describes the effects of operating Flaming Gorge Dam to achieve the flows recommended by the Recovery Implementation Program for Endangered Fish Species in the Upper Colorado River Basin (Recovery Program) and comply with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.

The purpose of the proposed action is 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:

bonytail RIP link Colorado pikeminnow RIP link humpback chub RIP link razorback sucker RIP link
  • razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus)
  • Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius)
  • humpback chub (Gila cypha)
  • bonytail (Gila elegans)

This action is necessary so that, along with other activities of the Recovery Implementation Program Action Plan (Recovery Action Plan), the fish no longer require protection under the Endangered Species Act, while continuing the other authorized purposes of the Flaming Gorge Unit of the Colorado River Storage Project.

Flaming Gorge Dam

Flaming Gorge Dam is located on the Green River in northeastern Utah. Construction of the dam was completed in 1964, and full operation of the dam and reservoir began in 1967. The powerplant began commercial operation in 1963. Reclamation operates the powerplant located at the base of the dam, and the Western Area Power Administration (Western) markets the power. Reservoir releases through the powerplant currently range from 800 to 4,700 cubic feet per second (cfs).

History of Authorizing Legislations

The construction, operation and maintenance of Flaming Gorge Dam and Reservoir were authorized by Congress on April 11, 1956 (Public Law 84-485) as an initial unit of the colorado River Storage Project. The Colorado River Storage Project is a program to develop, and make available for use, the water resources of the Upper Colorado River Basin:

photo: Flaming Gorge Dam
...for the purposes, among others, of regulating the flow of the Colorado River, storing water for beneficial consumptive use, making it possible for the States of the Upper Basin to utilize consistently with the provisions of the Colorado River Compact, the apportionments made to and among them in the Colorado River Compact and the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact, respectively providing for the reclamation of arid and semiarid land, for the control of floods, and for the generation of hydroelectric power, as an incident of the foregoing purposes...

In 1968, Congress enacted the Colorado River Basin Project Act which provided a program for further comprehensive development of Colorado River Basin water resources for:

... the purposes, among others, of regulating the flow of the Colorado River; controlling floods; improving navigation; providing for the storage and delivery of the waters of the Colorado River for reclamation of lands, including supplemental water supplies, and for municipal, industrial, and other beneficial purposes; improving water quality; providing for basic public outdoor recreation facilities; improving conditions for fish and wildlife, and the generation and sale of electrical power as an incident of the foregoing purpose.

Currently, construction costs and the operations of Flaming Gorge Dam and Reservoir have been allocated to the purposes of irrigation and other consumptive uses, commercial power, fish and wildlife conservation, and recreation.

In addition, the Criteria for Coordinated Long-Range Operation of Colorado River Reservoirs (including Flaming Gorge Dam) were mandated by the Colorado Basin Project Act which requires that the Annual Operating Plan for Colorado River reservoirs:

...reflect appropriate consideration of the uses of the reservoirs for all purposes, including flood control, river regulation, beneficial consumptive uses, power production, water quality control, recreation enhancement of fish and wildlife, and other environmental factors


Last updated: August 28, 2008