Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Frank Quimby, 202-208-7291
September 14, 2004
or Bob Walsh, 702-591-0029
Secretary Norton Signs Agreement for Multi-Species Conservation Program on Lower Colorado River

PHOENIX, Arizona -- Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton today signed an agreement with representatives of Arizona, Nevada and California that will result in completion of a long-term, comprehensive initiative to recover endangered species and protect wildlife habitat on the Colorado River from Lake Mead to the U.S.-Mexico border.

"The Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program is a crucial environmental achievement," Norton said in signing the Memorandum of Agreement. "This program will protect the river's habitat and the species that depend on it, while also ensuring the river's resources can continue to be used by the citizens of Nevada, California and Arizona to support their economy and quality of life."

The 50-year initiative will protect the environment while ensuring the certainty of continued water and power operations on the river. The program will address the needs of threatened and endangered wildlife under the Endangered Species Act and prevent the listing of additional species on the lower Colorado River.

The proposed plan would create more than 8,100 acres of riparian, marsh and backwater habitat for 31 endangered species. The Department of the Interior will provide half of the estimated $620 million cost of the program over its life span, and the three lower basin states will provide the other 50 percent.

Federal, state and local officials participated in today's event, as well as representatives of agencies and groups that make up the 35-member Steering Committee that has led the development of the program since it was launched in 1997. The partnership includes the Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, the three Lower Colorado Basin states, several Colorado River tribes, water and power contractors and other stakeholders involved in Lower Colorado River management.

Under the MOA signed today, the partners committed to using their best efforts and to provide all staff and resources necessary to publish a final Environmental Impact Statement for the program by late December, and to have a Record of Decision in place to implement the program in early January. Numerous permits and documents need to be completed to allow this to occur.





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