Flaming Gorge

Current Status

(Last Updated: May 25, 2016)

Flaming Gorge Dam is currently releasing steady minimum flows of 800 cfs.  Current Yampa River at Deerlodge 12,300 cfs and are expected to remain between 10,000 cfs to 12,000 cfs over the next week.  Green River at Jensen flows will follow with a similar pattern and flow, although Flaming Gorge Dam is expected to increase with the spring peak release sometime between May 29 to June 3, 2016. The spring peak release will increase flows in the Green River up to an additional 8,600 cfs and these releases are not shown on the Jensen forecast. Uncertainty exists regarding the forecast and observed flows will vary.  

Larval razorback sucker have yet to be observed in the system and Reclamation continues to wait for biologists and scientists to confirm larval emergence.  Flaming Gorge Dam will begin increasing from current releases up to 8,600 cfs.  The exact schedule will be distributed once it has been finalized.  

Larval emergence of razorback sucker are dependent upon both the Yampa River peak flow and the number of degree days above 14C in the Green River.  Spawning razorback sucker have been seen on the spawning bar the week of May 9 and larval emergence occurs between 3 to 4 weeks after that time.  

The FGTWG met today and scientists confirmed that the estimates remain for larval emergence to occur during the last week in May into the first week of June, although uncertainty exists and actual observed larvae will be used for the spring peak trigger. 

 

Reclamation will continue to provide updates regarding estimates of larval presence and future flows in the Yampa and Green Rivers.

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 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.

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

Working Group Meetings

Reclamation will be holding two Flaming Gorge Working Group meetings this year. The first meeting will be held on March 23, 2016, at 6:00 p.m. in Green River, Utah at the Green River High School.

Reclamation will be holding the second Flaming Gorge Working Group meeting on Tuesday, April 19, 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