Recovery Program Elements

The Recovery Program implements management actions within seven Program elements to achieve recovery of the Colorado River endangered fishes.

Instream Flow Identification & Protection
The Recovery Program implements innovative solutions to meet the water needs of growing western communities while providing adequate instream flows to restore river and floodplain habitat to benefit endangered fishes. Program partners cooperatively manage water resources in accordance with state water law, individual water rights, and interstate compacts. This is accomplished through water leases and contracts, coordinated water releases from upstream reservoirs, participation in reservoir enlargements, efficiency improvements to irrigation systems, and reoperation of federal dams and reservoirs. These actions benefit recreational, municipal, and agricultural water users, as well as the endangered fishes.

Habitat Restoration
The Recovery Program works cooperatively with water and power customers and landowners to improve fish habitat. Projects include constructing fish passages at diversion dams for endangered and other native fishes; screening diversion canals to keep fish from entering and becoming trapped, and acquiring and restoring floodplain habitat to serve primarily as fish nursery areas.

Nonnative Fish Management
Predation or competition by nonnative fish species is a serious threat to the endangered fishes and perhaps the most challenging to manage. The Recovery Program is working proactively to meet the challenge of nonnative fish management by removing the most problematic nonnative fishes from rivers, and preventing nonnative fish from entering the river system in areas inhabited by endangered fish. The actions recognize the dual responsibilities of state and federal wildlife agencies to conserve native fish species while providing sportfishing opportunities.

Propagation & Stocking
Hatchery-produced, stocked fish form the foundation to reestablish naturally self-sustaining populations of razorback sucker and bonytail in the upper Colorado River system. The Recovery Program maximizes the genetic diversity of wild broodstocks used to produce fish in hatcheries to increase the likelihood that stocked fish can cope with local habitat conditions in the wild. An integrated stocking plan was implemented in 2003 to expedite reestablishment of wild populations.

Research & Monitoring
The Recovery Program conducts research and monitoring to generate information on abundance, reproduction, growth, and survival of endangered fish in the wild. A data management system serves as a repository and analytical tool for the collected information. Data are used to evaluate and adjust management actions and recovery strategies through adaptive management.

Information & Education
The Recovery Program works proactively to increase public support for endangered fish recovery. The Recovery Program involves local communities to help promote awareness via interpretive signs and exhibits at key locations along the Colorado River.

Program Management
The Recovery Program Director's Office and Recovery Program partners engage in activities to direct the daily and long-term implementation of actions to achieve recovery of the endangered fishes.