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Anglers attack U.S. plans to alter Flaming Gorge flow

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ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation should worry more about preserving Flaming Gorge Reservoir's sport fishing than the endangered chubs and suckers below the dam, anglers and residents said.

Many of 80 or so people at a public meeting Wednesday were also concerned changing the dam's flow patterns could threaten the marinas around the reservoir.

The Bureau of Reclamation is studying how the dam could be run to benefit the razorback sucker, the Colorado pikeminnow, the humpback chub and the bonytail chub, all of which are endangered.

Draft recommendations call for modifying releases so the flow below the dam mimics the Green River's natural state.

Some at the meeting were concerned increasing the dam flows could lead to draining the reservoir, which is exactly what some environmentalists suggested earlier in the week. Bureau of Reclamation officials said draining the reservoir is not being considered.

Others said lower levels could be hazardous for boaters.

"Boaters won't see dangers on the lake . . . isn't safety more important than flooding the river?" asked Buckboard Marina operator Les Tanner.

Green River angler Gary Sparks said the agency is putting endangered fish before the needs of people, "and I think that's wrong."

Still others noted the lake's low level this year and said they feared any flow changes could lower the level even more.

"I'm very concerned you'll be turning water loose at a critical time in the spring, and that makes it very difficult to stay in business," Tanner said.

Green River resident Chris Hall said, "You may save the fish, but what about everybody else?"