Neguse Introduces Bill to Protect and Recover Endangered Species in the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins
Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman Joe Neguse, Chair of the U.S. Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands introduced legislation to protect endangered fish in the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins, while allowing water development projects to proceed. The Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins Recovery Act would authorize the Bureau of Reclamation to continue the implementation of endangered fish recovery programs for the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins through 2024 in order to protect and recover endangered fishes while water development proceeds in compliance with all applicable Federal and State laws. Actions taken under these programs also provide benefits to other native fishes in the basin and prevent them from becoming endangered in the future.
In 2019, Congressman Neguse enacted legislation into law to reauthorize the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, a similar program that protects wildlife in the Platte River Basin and coordinates with local water development.
“The Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program has been working for decades to protect endangered fish found only in the Colorado River system, and sustain their natural habitats while allowing water development projects at the state and local levels to continue,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “I’m pleased to introduce this reauthorizing bill today in partnership with local and state partners to protect Colorado wildlife and local water development and ensure the reliability and consistency of this program for the future.”
“Colorado thanks Representative Neguse for championing this important bill and Congress’ long-standing support for the Colorado River Basin endangered fish recovery programs. These programs help protect our water resources and ensure that the people who use our waters will have roles in shaping the future of the Colorado River and its tributaries,” said Governor Jared Polis.
The Upper Colorado River Basin is home to 14 native fish species, including the endangered humpback chub, bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow, and razorback sucker. These endangered fish are found only in the Colorado River system.
The Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program was first established in 1988 to help bring four species of endangered fish back from the brink of extinction: the humpback chub, bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow, and razorback sucker. The Recovery Program is a unique partnership of local, state, and federal agencies, water and power interests, and environmental groups working to recover endangered fish in the Upper Colorado River Basin while water development proceeds in accordance with federal and state laws and interstate compacts. The goal of recovery is to achieve natural, self-sustaining populations of the endangered fish so they no longer require protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. With its demonstrated successes, the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program has become a national model for its collaborative conservation efforts to protect endangered species.
The Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins Recovery Act would also extend a reporting deadline. Current legislation requires that the Secretary of the Interior submit a report to Congress on the Recovery Programs to Congress by September 30, 2021 in consultation with the Recovery Programs. The report will detail, among other things, activities to be carried out after FY2023 and the cost of such activities. Due to uncertainty and delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Recovery Programs’ partners are seeking a one-year extension of the Secretary’s report deadline.
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