San Juan River Habitat Restoration Project part of America’s Great Outdoors Rivers Initiative

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Here’s the release from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Justyn Hock):

Today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar highlighted nine of 51 total projects, one in each state and the District of Columbia, that serve as models of the America’s Great Outdoors River Initiative to conserve and restore key rivers across the nation, expand outdoor recreational opportunities and support jobs in local communities.
Included in this list is the San Juan River in Reclamation’s Upper Colorado Region.

“The San Juan River Habitat Restoration Project, as part of America’s Great Outdoors Rivers Initiative, will greatly assist Reclamation and all of its federal, tribal, states and non-governmental partners in the San Juan River Basin to continue the significant gains being made towards eventual recovery of endangered species of fish,” said Western Colorado Area Manager Ed Warner.

The goals of the Rivers Initiative include protecting and restoring America’s rivers for people and wildlife and enhancing river recreation that support jobs in tourism and outdoor recreation.

Of the 51 projects, nearly half expand recreational fishing and boating while others improve signage, maps, access points and other tools to enhance recreational use of rivers. Twelve projects engage youth in projects while 12 projects also support the America’s Great Outdoors Urban Initiative, to enhance parks and other outdoor recreational facilities and provide outdoor education to young people in cities.

“Across the country, we are working hand in hand with states, tribes, local communities and other partners to revitalize our nation’s rivers and expand the opportunities for people to fish, boat, and otherwise connect with the natural world,” Salazar said. “These on-going projects demonstrate how the federal government can be an effective conservation partner for community-led efforts to improve our environment and the quality of life of residents while creating jobs in the outdoor recreation economy.”

Reclamation will serve as lead on four of these projects: the Red Bluff Fish Passage Improvement Project on the Sacramento River in California; the Yankee Fork (of the Salmon River) Off-Channel Habitat Restoration in Idaho; the Colorado River Heritage Greenway Park and Trails in Nevada and the San Juan River Habitat Restoration in New Mexico. Reclamation will co-lead a project in Nebraska with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Platte River Restoration and Recreation Project.

Salazar unveiled the America’s Great Outdoors Rivers Initiative in January as part of President Obama’s overall America’s Great Outdoors initiative to work with communities across the country to establish a 21st century conservation ethic, reconnect people, especially young people, to the natural world, and promote the outdoor recreation economy.

Here’s the project description from the Department of Interior website:

The San Juan River is home to the endangered Colorado Pikeminnow and Razorback sucker. The San Juan Recovery Program assists in recovery of endangered species for over 300 water development projects in Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. In addition, actions taken under this program will provide benefits to other native fishes in the San Juan Basin and prevent them from becoming endangered in the future.

Recovery actions involve restoring and managing stream flows and habitat, boosting wild populations with hatchery-raised endangered fish, and reducing negative interactions with non-native fish species. For this project, bulldozers and excavators were used to construct secondary channels and backwaters and remove non-native vegetation.

While species recovery and water development are the primary benefits of these recovery activities, in-stream flow protection and habitat restoration will also likely result in healthier riverine and riparian environments in national parks, on tribal lands, and on other public and private lands enjoyed by outdoor recreationists and nature enthusiasts.

More San Juan River Basin coverage here.

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