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207 MILES OF RIVER IN S. UTAH PROPOSED AS CRITICAL HABITAT

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed 207 miles of the southern Utah's Virgin River and its tributaries as critical habitat for three native fish.

The Virgin River originates north of Zion National Park and runs through Utah, Arizona and Nevada, where it merges with the Colorado River.Under the federal Endangered Species Act, two of the three fish - the Virgin River Chub and the woundfin - are listed as endangered, and officials have proposed listing the Virgin spinedace as threatened.

About 60 percent of the proposed chub habitat is government owned and 45 percent of the proposed spinedace habitat is either owned by government or tribal agencies.

Washington County officials have expressed concern over habitat designation restricting water development in one of Utah's fastest growing areas.

A public hearing on the habitat proposal is set for May 8.