This draft environmental assessment (EA) discusses two related actions proposed to assist in the recovery of two Federally-listed endangered fish species. The actions are intended to restore use of historic and designated critical habitat of the Gunnison River by the Colorado squawfish and razorback sucker. The proposed actions are to: construct and operate a fish passageway around the Redlands Diversion Dam; and execute an interim (short-term) memorandum of agreement (water agreement) to supply streamflows needed to operate the passageway and maintain downstream fish habitat and access for fish to the passageway. The EA is prepared jointly by the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 (Public Law 91-190), the Endangered Species Act, and related Department of Interior policies and regulations. A need has been identified to allow endangered fish species to move upstream past the Redlands Diversion Dam on the Gunnison River so they can complete their life cycle and establish self sustaining populations. In meeting this need, the following purposes and objectives are considered: flexibility to study effectiveness of the passageway and river flows; maintenance of adequate flows to operate a fish passageway and to allow native fish movement in the lower Gunnison River below the Redlands Diversion Dam; protection of the purposes of the Redlands Diversion Dam; prevention of non-native fish from moving upstream past the Redlands Diversion Dam; and protection of existing water rights and uses. Once required flows have been identified and passageway effectiveness has been monitored, it is expected that a long-term water supply contract will be negotiated that will replace the interim water agreement. Development of the long-term contract involves additional public input and documentation under NEPA and the Endangered Species Act.
DRAFT environmental assessment. Gunnison River activities.