Flaming Gorge

Current Status

(Last Updated:July 11, 2016)

Flaming Gorge Dam is currently releasing 1,100 cfs. Releases during the base flow season through September 30, 2016, will be modified regularly to provide for Colorado Pikeminnow flows in Reach 2 of the Green River. Targeted flow levels in Reach 2 will vary between approximately 2,000 cfs to 2,300 cfs. Yampa River flows are decreasing and it is prudent to increase releases to maintain targeted flow levels.

Therefore, Flaming Gorge releases will be increased to 1,700 cfs beginning Thursday, July 14, 2016, according to the linked schedule. Releases may be increased or decreased further depending upon Yampa River flows and updated information will be posted.

Spring Operations and Larval Trigger Study Plan

As in the last five years, Reclamation again will be involved in a cooperative experimental program (Larval Trigger Study Program or LTSP) this year where the capture of endangered larval razorback sucker is the “trigger” to increase releases from Flaming Gorge Dam this spring. 

Reclamation plans to coordinate with scientists involved in realtime monitoring on the river to determine the first appearance of larval razorback sucker. Biologists will begin sampling light traps in the middle Green River Monday, May 9, to determine the initial presence this year.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and State of Utah will be regularly sampling for larval Razorback Sucker and data will be processed and shared when available. Upon detection of larval presence, Reclamation will increase releases from Flaming Gorge in an effort to entrain larvae in backwaters where they have a better chance of survival.

Reclamation anticipates at least 3 days notification in the event larval presence is reported and Flaming Gorge Dam releases are increased. Reclamation will determine the appropriate level of releases from Flaming Gorge Dam to achieve the goals of the experimental program, and is planning on releasing from powerplant capacity (~4,600 cfs) to full bypass (8,600 cfs) to achieve those goals.

Kevin Bestgen, the scientific point of contact for prediction of larval emergence, shared the following information with Reclamation last year. “The best predictor of first presence of larvae is spring peak flow magnitude in the Yampa River. There is a definite temporal component to this as higher magnitude spring peaks occur later, and lower ones earlier. Whether flow is the actual driver or not is uncertain; I rather think it is not but it appears to be a useful metric for first presence prediction... The highest flow point … was 2011; that year the temperature model predicted first presence late, by 2 days. In 2012, the model predicted first presence within 2 days, but last year (2014) was somewhat late missing by 5 days because temps were fluctuating and cool.” 

Spring Forecast

The Record of Decision outlines spring operations based on the final May spring runoff forecast. The May forecast of 79 percent of average was on the cusp between the moderately dry and average hydrologic conditions of the Record of Decision and the average (below median) hydrologic condition on the Larval Trigger Study Plan. The May final forecast for unregulated inflow volume over the April through July period is 770,000 acre-feet (79 percent of 30-year average) and falls at 70 percent exceedance, which is on the cusp between the moderately and average (below median) hydrologic classification.  The Yampa River at Deerlodge Park flow volume for April through July is 1,250,000 acre-feet (101 percent of 30-year average) and falls at 49 percent exceedance, which falls in the average (above median) hydrologic classification. Reclamation will operate Flaming Gorge under the average (below median) hydrologic classification.

Unregulated inflow into Flaming Gorge Reservoir during the month of June was 455,000 af, or 116 percent of average. The reservoir elevation is 6,029.53 ft and decreasing. The July final forecast for inflows for the next three months projects much below average: with July, August and September forecasted inflow volumes at 108,000 af (51 percent of average), 65,000 af (73 percent of average), and 47,000 af (85 percent of average), respectively.

To view the most current reservoir elevation, content, inflow and release, click on: Flaming Gorge Reservoir Data.

Working Group Meetings

Reclamation will be holding the Flaming Gorge Working Group meeting on Tuesday, August 30, 2016, at 11:00 a.m. at the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources offices located at 318 North Vernal Avenue, Vernal, Utah.

The Flaming Gorge Working Group is an open public forum for information exchange between Reclamation and the stake holders of Flaming Gorge Dam. The public is encouraged to attend and comment on the operations and plans presented by Reclamation at these meetings. Meeting notes from past Working Group meetings are posted on the Working Group webpage.  For more information on this group and these meetings please contact Dale Hamilton at 801-379-1186 or Heather Patno at 801-524-3883.

The August 24, 2014 Flaming Gorge Working Group has been posted online. Past working group meeting summaries and can be accessed on the Working Group pages.

Additional Information