Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar was joined by several Western state leaders to renew their commitment to a nationally recognized program that is working to recover endangered fish in the Upper Colorado River Basin while water development continues in accordance with state and federal laws.
Governors from Colorado and Wyoming, as well as former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and Western Area Power Administration head Timothy Meeks, penned the agreement with Salazar. Huntsman, according to a spokeswoman with the program, signed the document at the end of July before he left office, but the agreement also has the support of new Gov. Gary Herbert.
The agreement extends the program through 2023, with the extension ensuring continued cooperative work to recover the endangered bonytail, humpback chub, Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker. At the same time, the agreement allows future water development to occur for agricultural, hydroelectric and municipal uses in the Upper Colorado River Basin.
Established in 1998, the recovery program is a voluntary, cooperative program involving federal and state agencies, water development interests, power customers and environmental organizations in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
"This extension of the recovery program's cooperative agreement shows how far we've come in the last two decades," said Salazar. "When this program began 21 years ago, it was the first conservation initiative of its kind. Never before had such a broad group of state and federal agencies come together formally to work side-by-side with water users, power customers and environmental organizations."
— Amy Joi O'Donoghue