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Office of the Secretary
April 21, 2008
Joan Moody (202) 208-6416

Secretary of the Interior Kempthorne Presents Cooperative Conservation Award for Earth Day to the Upper Colorado River Basin and San Juan River Basin Fish Recovery Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. - At a ceremony in the nation’s capital today, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne presented the Department of the Interior’s Cooperative Conservation Award to two model programs in the West that work to preserve endangered fish through multi-stakeholder collaboration. The programs are the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming and the San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program in Colorado and New Mexico.

Both programs work through cooperation among Indian tribes, water developers, environmental organizations, states, and federal agencies to overcome water-use conflicts while protecting species. Today the programs shared one of 21 awards recognizing the work of a total of more than 700 groups and individuals nationwide who achieved excellence in conservation through collaboration and partnerships.

In this case, in light of water use conflicts in the Upper Colorado River Basin, a diverse group of stakeholders initiated an innovative river basin management collaboration. The Upper Colorado partnership focuses on the recovery of four endangered fish species--Colorado pikeminnow, razorback sucker, humpback chub, and bonytail-- through constructing fish passage projects, fish screens, and habitat improvements. The program is now a nationally recognized model for resolving endangered species and water resource conflicts and influenced formation of a similar program in the San Juan River basin.

The San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program aims to “protect and recover endangered fishes in the San Juan River Basin while enabling water development to proceed in compliance with federal and state laws” The endangered species involved include the Colorado pikeminnow and the razorback sucker.. A fish passage project and removal of non-native species are two of the program’s success stories.

The award recognizes the partnership model “for its many collaborative undertakings demonstrating that endangered species conservation and water development and management can be compatible.” Nominated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the award for the Upper Colorado program recognizes not only individuals in that agency but also in the Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado Dept. of Natural Resources, Colorado River Energy Distributors Association, National Park Service, The Nature Conservancy, Utah Department of Natural Resources, Water Consult, Western Area Power Administration, Western Resource Advocates and the Wyoming State Engineer's Office. (See list at end of release.)

San Juan River Basin awardees include employees of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado Water Conservation Board, Jicarilla Apache Nation, The Nature Conservancy, Navajo Nation, New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and Water Consult.

“These outstanding partnerships and cooperative efforts represent a fundamental way in which our Department provides stewardship for America with integrity and excellence,” Secretary Kempthorne said. “They embody a broad spectrum of conservation work from restoring wetlands, rangelands and mine lands to protecting wildlife, conserving water and fighting invasive species to teaching conservation values to the next generation.”

The Department of the Interior’s Cooperative Conservation Award recognizes conservation achievements resulting from the cooperation and participation of individual landowners, citizen groups, private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and Federal, State, local, and/or tribal governments.

“This is a fitting start to a week of Earth Day activities,” the Secretary told the crowd at the main Interior auditorium. “If anyone were to ask me why America is the world leader in conservation of natural resources, I would simply point to the people in this auditorium. You are the spirit and you are the hands of cooperative conservation.”

Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming)
Nominated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Bureau of Reclamation
Carol DeAngelis
Colorado Dept. of Natural Resources
Harris Sherman
Colorado River Energy Distributors Association
Leslie James
National Park Service
Janet Wise
The Nature Conservancy
Tom Iseman
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Thomas E. Chart
Thomas E. Czapla
Debra B. Felker
Stephen Guertin
Jana Mohrman
Angela T. Kantola
Robert T. Muth
Mary E. Nelson
George Smith
Ellen A. Szczesny
Kathleen J. Wall
Utah Department of Natural Resources
Michael Styler
Water Consult
Tom Pitts
Western Area Power Administration
Clayton Palmer
Western Resource Advocates
Dan Luecke
Wyoming State Engineer's Office
John Shields
Patrick Tyrrell

San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program (Colorado, New Mexico)
Nominated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Bureau of Indian Affairs
Justin Lynch
Bureau of Land Management
Joel Farrell
Bureau of Reclamation
Brent Uilenberg
Colorado Water Conservation Board
Randy Seaholm
Jicarilla Apache Nation
Susan Jordan
The Nature Conservancy
Adrian Ogelsby
Navajo Nation
Stanley Pollack
New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission
John Whipple
Southern Ute Indian Tribe
Catherine Condon
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
David Campbell
Brian Millsap
Joann Perea-Richmann
Allan Pfister
Sharon Whitmore
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
Dan Israel
Water Consult
Tom Pitts

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