Land and Water Stewardship

Contact: Reclamation Public Affairs

Conserving Our Land and Water and Expanding Outdoor Recreation

In celebration of our resources and recreation, the Bureau of Reclamation has expanded upon single- purpose agricultural projects, moving towards multi-purpose water resource development that includes recreation and the establishment of some of the Nation's popular water-based outdoor recreation areas. Reclamation provides approximately 6.5 million acres of land and water available for public outdoor recreation. Currently, 289 recreation areas are available for public use. This includes 12 designated National Recreation Areas that are managed by the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service.

Reclamation provides for 90 million visits annually through 187 developed recreation areas providing 5,500 miles of fresh water shoreline, 549 campgrounds, and 454 boat launch ramps. Reclamation's management and recreation activities contribute $48.1 billion in economic output, and support about 388,000 jobs.1

Reclamation's land and water-based outdoor recreation opportunities often include opportunities such as camping, hiking, boating, special recreation and youth programs, hunting, fishing, photography, wildlife viewing, and natural and cultural resources, as well as provide unique educational and interpretive opportunities. Reclamation projects have also created national wildlife refuges and state wildlife management areas that offer valuable fish and wildlife habitat along with hunting and fishing opportunities. Reclamation directly manages 45 recreation areas. In addition, Reclamation projects have also created a variety of recreation opportunities on the rivers downstream from the dams, including world class whitewater rafting and fishing opportunities.

To meet Reclamation's mission goals, a part of its programs must focus on the protection and restoration of the aquatic and riparian environments influenced by its operations. These efforts help Reclamation balance its environmental protection role as a water supplier, power generator, and recreation steward thus positioning Reclamation to address the ongoing challenges presented by drought, increasing populations, the growing water demand associated with energy generation, and environmental needs.

The FY 2019 Budget provides $147.5 million for operating, managing, and improving California's Central Valley Project (CVP). Funding for CVP includes $17.1 million for the Trinity River Division (of which $11.9 million is associated with recreation and Trinity River Restoration - with an additional $1.5 million through the CVP Restoration Fund). The Trinity River Restoration program includes 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.

The budget also includes $31.2 million for the Lower Colorado River Operations Program, which includes $16.8 million for the multi-species conservation plan, and $17.5 million for the Klamath Project to address water supply and shortage needs. The request for Klamath includes funding for the protection of endangered species.

The FY 2019 Budget includes $19.2 million for Endangered Species Programs and activities involving more than one Reclamation project. This includes continuing water restoration activities; providing and protecting in-stream flows; managing endangered species activities; habitat restoration and protection; research; planning and outreach; and construction of facilities to benefit fish and wildlife. In addition, the Middle Rio Grande project budget is $23.5 million, of which $11.5 million is associated with recreation and Reclamation's participation in the Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Act Collaborative Program.

The Columbia and Snake River Salmon Recovery Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) budget of $19 million will be used to implement multiple Biological Opinion (BiOp) actions. These mitigation actions allow continued operation of the FCRPS, including Grand Coulee and Hungry Horse dams, and continued compliance with the Endangered Species Act. Furthermore, the Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project budget of $13.2 million will continue addressing water supply shortages by evaluating and implementing structural and nonstructural measures to increase the reliability of the irrigation water supply and enhance stream flows and fish passage for anadromous fish in the Yakima River Basin. Construction of the Cle Elum Dam Fish Passage is being funded jointly by Reclamation and the State of Washington through a memorandum of understanding.


Endorsing Theodore Roosevelt's legacy of land and wildlife conservation, Reclamation strives to ensure future water delivery and power generation through the conservation of the resources available now. The WaterSMART program implements water management strategies to expand and stretch limited water supplies in the West to address current and future water shortages. The program also addresses increased demands for water and energy from growing populations, recognition of environmental water requirements, and the potential for decreased water supply availability due to drought.

Reclamation's FY 2019 Budget includes $19.9 million for competitive cost-share grants for water and energy management improvement projects, basin-wide efforts to evaluate and address the impacts of water supply shortages, Title XVI water recycling and desalination research projects, support for collaborative watershed groups, planning and design of water conservation activities through the Water Conservation Field Services Program (WCFSP); and a comprehensive approach to drought planning and implementation actions that address water shortages.

Reclamation will implement the $19.9 million requested in the President's budget as follows:

WaterSMART Program ($000)

  2019 budget
WaterSMART Grants $10,000
Basin Studies $2,000
Title XVI $3,000
Cooperative Watershed Management Program $250
Drought Response Program $2,901
Water Conservation Field Services Program $1,750
Total $19,901

Funding for WaterSMART Grants is used primarily to carry out water and energy efficiency improvements, including projects that save water, increase energy efficiency and the use of efficient energy in water management, support environmental benefits (, facilitate and support water markets, mitigate the risk of future water conflict, and accomplish other benefits contributing to water supply reliability in the Western United States. Other projects may result in water delivery improvements facilitating future on-farm improvements.

Reclamation will also address risks to future water supplies from drought, population growth, long-term trends in weather and precipitation patterns, and increased water needs for environmental purposes through the Basin Study Program, which implements Section 9503 of the SECURE Water Act through a complementary set of activities.

The Title XVI Program identifies and investigates opportunities to reclaim and reuse wastewaters and naturally impaired ground and surface water in the 17 Western United States and Hawaii. Water recycling provides a drought-resistant supply, since sources such as treated municipal wastewater continue to be available during periods of water shortage. Water recycling also helps diversify the water supply and reduces the pressure to transfer water from agricultural to urban uses. Program funding will be used to fund water reclamation and reuse research through a competitive process using evaluation criteria focused on reducing existing diversions or addressing specific water supply issues in a cost- effective manner, and meeting other program goals. A small amount of funding will also be used to continue general program administration such as collection of data on program accomplishments and coordination among regional offices for consistency. The ongoing Water Conservation Field Services Program (WCFSP), which includes funding for development of water conservation plans and design of water management improvements, identifying water management improvements through System Optimization Reviews, and improving the understanding of water conservation technologies through demonstration activities, is also included as part of the WaterSMART Program.

The Cooperative Watershed Management Program provides financial assistance to establish and further develop collaborative watershed groups. This includes outreach to ensure that the groups are representative of the stakeholders within the watershed, the development of watershed restoration plans to identify critical water issues related to water quantity and quality, and scoping and planning potential on the ground projects. In FY 2019, funding will be allocated on a competitive basis using established criteria.

Furthermore, efforts towards Drought Resiliency Projects and Comprehensive Drought Plans under Reclamation's Drought Response Program are continued in FY 2019 to help avoid drought-related crises in the short term, while laying a foundation for drought resiliency in the long term. These efforts also support the National Drought Resilience Partnership by funding projects and planning efforts that help resources managers access and use drought information to improve management of scarce water supplies.

Updated: Feb. 13, 2018

1 Department of Interior's Economic Report, FY 2016

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