Stimulus directs millions to Lower Colorado River program

The Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program will receive $2.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the $787 billion economic stimulus package passed in February.

The Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with 56 federal, state, environmental, and tribal agencies from Arizona, California, and Nevada, is implementing the 50-year program. (HNN 2/7/07) The parties created the $626 million program in 2005 to recover endangered species and native wildlife habitat, and to prevent more species along the river from being listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The program also is to help ensure certainty of existing and future water and hydropower operations essential to Southwest communities and farms.

More than 8,100 acres of riparian, marsh, and backwater habitat will be established along the river. More than 1.2 million razorback sucker and bonytail will be stocked to augment populations of endangered fish.

The stimulus bill included $1 billion for BuRec to invest in U.S. water infrastructure. (HNN 4/15/09) From that, BuRec said it plans to use recovery funds for the program to:
o Retrofit fish hatcheries to raise additional endangered fish;
o Research the amount of water native birds need in riparian habitats during their breeding season;
o Upgrade water control structures to limit non-native fish access to existing backwater habitats, and expand the program’s capability to evaluate, maintain, and manage created backwaters;
o Accelerate research efforts to provide information on covered species and habitat requirements, including the effects of salt cedar bio-control efforts on populations of endangered Southwestern willow flycatchers, and the habitats and ranges of elf owl populations; and
o Identify opportunities to secure water to ensure long-term viability of created conservation areas.

BuRec said it has not yet decided whether it will issue new solicitations for work provided for by the recovery funds, or to rely upon solicitations already issued.

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