The US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) has released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the operation of Flaming Gorge dam.

The FEIS document, prepared with the cooperation of eight state and federal agencies, describes the potential effects of modifying the operation of the dam to assist in the recovery of four endangered fish and their critical habitat downstream from the dam.

The purpose of the proposed action analysed in the FEIS is to operate Flaming Gorge dam to protect and assist in recovery of the populations and designated critical habitat of the four endangered fishes, while maintaining all authorised purposes of the Flaming Gorge Unit of the Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP), particularly those related to the development of water resources in accordance with the Colorado River Storage Compact. The four endangered fish species are Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), humpback chub (Gila cypha), razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), and bonytail (Gila elegans).

The FEIS document describes and analyses the potential effects of two alternatives. Under the No Action Alternative, operations under the conditions imposed by the 1992 Biological Opinion would continue. Under the Action Alternative, operations would be in accordance with the flow and temperature regimes described in the Flow and Temperature Recommendations for Endangered Fish in the Green River Downstream of Flaming Gorge Dam published in September 2000 by the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program (Recovery Program).

USBR proposes to take action to protect and assist in the recovery of the populations and designated critical habitat of the four endangered fishes found in the Green and Colorado river basins. USBR would implement the proposed action by modifying the operations of Flaming Gorge dam, to the extent possible, to achieve the flows and temperatures recommended by participants of the Recovery Program.

The recommended flows and temperatures are intended to provide water releases of sufficient magnitude and, with the proper timing and duration, to assist in the recovery of the endangered fishes and their designated critical habitat.

The Draft EIS on the Operation of Flaming Gorge Dam was issued to the public in early September 2004. During the 60-day public review period, five public hearings were held and over 600 written and oral public comments were received. All comments received were carefully reviewed and considered in preparing the FEIS. Where appropriate, revisions were made to the document in response to specific comments. The comments and responses, together with the FEIS, will be considered in determining whether or not to implement the proposed federal action.

No decision will be made on the proposed federal action until at least 30 days after release of the FEIS. After the 30-day waiting period, Reclamation will complete a Record of Decision. The Record of Decision will state which alternative analyzed in the final document will be implemented and discuss all factors leading to that decision. As stated in the FEIS, the Action Alternative is the preferred alternative.

The EIS is also available on USBR’s website, by clicking on the link below.

Flaming Gorge dam, located on the Green river in northeastern Utah about 200 miles east of Salt Lake city, is an authorized storage unit of the CRSP. Flaming Gorge dam was completed in 1962 and full operation of the dam and reservoir began in 1967. The power plant, located at the base of the dam, began commercial operation in 1963 and was completed in 1964. Reclamation operates the dam and power plant and the Western Area Power Administration markets the power.

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US Bureau of Reclamation