Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Colorado Squawfish(Ptychocheilus lucius)—Endangered
Humpback Chub (Gila cypha)—Endangered
Bonytail Chub (Gila elegans)—Endangered
Razorback Sucker (Xyrauchen texanus)—Endangered
These endangered Colorado River fishes are threatened by destruction of floodplain habitat, reduction of spring flows, alteration of natural river flows, flow fluctuations for hydropower production, passage barriers, contaminants, cold water temperatures below mainstem reservoirs, and competition with and predation by nonnative fishes.
The highest priority for the endangered Colorado River fishes is to prevent their extinction until recovery can be achieved. To meet that priority, the Fish and Wildlife Service's hatchery/research facility in Ouray, Utah, is spawning and rearing razorback suckers to be held as stock for future reintroduction. Plans are also under way to develop genetically representative gene banks for all known stocks of the four endangered fish species. The next priority is to restore habitat for these species so that recovery can be achieved. Several programs are under way to determine the best methods for diminishing threats to these species, and efforts are being made to restore significant portions of the fishes' historical range.
Habitat restoration will be vital for recovering these endangered fishes. Floodplain habitats will need to be reconnected to mainstem rivers so that they flood seasonally, flows must be managed to mimic historical conditions, fish passage must be restored at some locales, nonnative fishes must be controlled where they impact these native species, contaminants must be reduced, and opportunities for releasing warmer water from reservoirs must be explored. In some areas, captive-bred fishes will have to be reintroduced to evaluate habitat restoration efforts.
The State of Utah was provided $101,900 in FY 1991 and $98,700 in FY 1992 for Utah's participation in the Recovery Implementation Program, monitoring Colorado squawfish population status and trends, cooperative research in the Flaming Gorge area, flow effects on young-of-the-year squawfish, habitat surveys, genetics and propagation research, taxonomic studies, and participation in the Information and Education Program.
Recovery Implementation Program for the Endangered Fishes in the Upper Colorado River Basin: The goals of this program include recovery of the four fishes in the upper Colorado River basin (excluding the San Juan River basin) while allowing water development to continue. Major elements include determination of habitat needs, restoration of habitat to meet those needs, propagation and genetics management, management of nonnative fishes, research, monitoring of fishes and habitats, and data management. Participants include four Federal agencies: the Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Western Area Power Administration, and National Park Service. State agencies include the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Utah Department of Natural Resources, and State of Wyoming. Also involved are various conservation groups and upper basin water users.
San Juan River Seven-Year Research Plan: The purpose of this Plan is to determine the physical, chemical, and biological factors limiting native fish populations in the San Juan River, and to provide management options to restore the endangered fish community. Plan participants include three Federal agencies: the Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. State participants include the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and New Mexico Game and Fish Department. The Bureau of Reclamation is committed to funding the research, as well as operating Navajo Dam to provide test flows for the research.
San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program: The purpose of this program is to restore endangered fishes in the San Juan River basin while water development proceeds. Federal participants include the Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Reclamation, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. The States of Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico are also involved. Additional participants are the Navajo Nation, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe, Jicarilla Apache Indian Tribe, local governments, and non-Federal water development interests. Major elements of the program include genetics management and population augmentation; protection, management, and restoration of habitat; studies of interactions between native and nonnative fish species; monitoring; and data management.
Colorado squawfish—original plan approved 3/16/78; revised 8/6/91.
Humpback chub—original plan approved 8/22/79; revised 9/19/90.
Bonytail chub—original plan approved 5/16/84; revised 9/4/90.
Razorback sucker—plan under development.