Romney, Hickenlooper Bill Would Protect Endangered Native Fish Species, Help Maintain River Ecosystems

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) introduced the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins Recovery Act to continue protecting four threatened and endangered native fish species in the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins. The legislation would extend current conservation programs by one year and allow Upper Basin communities the time to develop a long-term management plan.

“I’m proud to team up with my colleague from Colorado to support Utah’s efforts to continue the recovery of the threatened and endangered fish species in the Upper Colorado and San Juan Rivers. This program has broad buy in from stakeholders in the eastern part of our state and represents an example of what successfully recovering endangered species looks like,” said Senator Romney.

“We must protect native fish in the Upper Colorado and San Juan River. This bill shows how states, tribes, federal entities, and water users can come together to get things done,” said Senator Hickenlooper, a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

The Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basin Endangered Fish Recovery Programs work to recover four threatened and endangered fish species: the humpback chub, bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow, and razorback sucker. These different species of fish help contribute to an overall healthy river ecosystem that benefits both people and nature.

Specifically the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Basins Recovery Act would:

  • Extend programs which currently study, monitor, and stock the fish, manage habitat and river flows, and combat invasive species.
  • Authorize the Bureau of Reclamation to continue funding and implementing the Upper Colorado and San Juan River Recovery Programs for one extra year, through 2024. The programs are currently set to expire on September 30, 2023.
  • Extend the Department of Interior’s reporting deadline by one year, to September 2022. Reporting includes program accomplishments, funds spent, and projected expenditures.
  • Create the ability to transfer funds from San Juan Basin to Upper Colorado Recovery programs by shifting capital cost ceilings, keeping the total cost constant.

Representatives Joe Neguse (D-CO), Blake Moore (R-UT), and Chris Stewart (R-UT) introduced companion legislation in the House in August 2021, which passed out of the House Natural Resource Committee in November 2021.