Recovery Programs Partners Collaborate to Recover Rare Native Fishes

Partners of the Recovery Programs

“The Upper Colorado River and San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Programs are models for Endangered Species Act implementation and help provide water reliability for approximately 2,500 municipal, industrial, and agricultural water projects throughout the Upper Colorado Basin. These programs were established under cooperative agreements between federal, state, tribal and non-government agencies who are working collaboratively to ensure the future of the endangered fish while meeting the water delivery requirements of communities within the basin.”

Brenda Burman

Commissioner of Reclamation, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (2017 - 2021)

Logo is a black and white drawing of a humpback chub in a canyon background

Recovery Program Partners

San Juan River Recovery and Implementation Program
State of Colorado Department of Natural Resources

The State of Colorado is a partner in both the Upper Colorado and San Juan programs, represented by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Colorado Department of Natural Resources’ mission is to develop, preserve, and enhance the state’s natural resources for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future citizens and visitors. In support of the Program, staff from DNR, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Colorado Water Conservation Board serve as experts and committee members at multiple levels. 

Colorado Water Congress

Water users throughout the four Upper Basin states are essential members of the recovery programs. Members from Colorado Water Congress provide a variety of in-kind contributions that support the program, including providing water, retiming water releases, adding irrigation efficiency measures, and providing expertise to the programs. The mission of the Colorado Water Congress is to initiate and advance programs to conserve, develop, administer, and protect the water resources of the State of Colorado. 

Colorado River Energy Distributors Association

The Colorado River Energy Distributors Association (CREDA) has been a driving force in the Upper Colorado Program since joining in 1999. CREDA is a non-profit organization representing consumer-owned electric systems that purchase federal hydropower and resources of the Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP). 

Jicarilla apache Nation

Leaders in conservation, the Jicarilla Apache is one of several loosely organized autonomous bands of the Eastern Apache, referring to the members of the Jicarilla Apache Nation currently living in New Mexico. They are a valued partner of the San Juan River Recovery Program, actively participating since 1992. Fisheries and Wildlife Resources within the 850,000 acre Jicarilla Apache Reservation are managed by the Jicarilla Game & Fish Department, whose mission is “To conserve, enhance and protect wildlife, fish and their habitat for the benefit of the Jicarilla Apache people, while perpetuating sovereign rights and traditional values”.

National Park Service

The National Park Service has been deeply involved in the conservation of native Colorado River fishes for decades covering a vast geographic area in the Colorado River Basin within the National Park System landscape. Joining the Upper Colorado Recovery Program in 1999, NPS staff provide essential support, including maintaining a focus on geomorphology of river systems. NPS is dedicated to conserving the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Service is also responsible for managing a great variety of national and international programs designed to help extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy serves as representation for the conservation community on both programs. As partners, they help to protect more than 1,000 miles of Critical Habitat for listed endangered fish in the basin. TNC develop specific resources that benefit natural resources and the programs, including Matheson Wetland in Utah and stream restoration efforts in the San Juan basin. “This program is more than a restoration program for these four endangered fish. This is an investment program that restores river flows and habitats to much of the Upper Colorado River Basin at the same time that it provides legal certainty to water users,” explained Patrick McCarthy, TNC’s Colorado River Program Conservation Director. 

Navajo Nation

The Navajo Nation has been a highly respected and valued partner of the San Juan Recovery Program since the Program was created in 1992. Their expertise and participation is helping lead the way for native fish conservation within the San Juan River Basin and their impact in these efforts will be felt for generations. Fish and wildlife within the borders of the Navajo Nation are managed by Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife whose mission is to conserve, protect, enhance and restore the Navajo Nation’s fish, wildlife, plants and their habitat, through aggressive management programs for the spiritual, cultural and material benefit of present and future generations of the Navajo Nation.

State of New Mexi

The State of New Mexico has been long-standing partner of  the San Juan Recovery Program since its establishment in 1992. Fish and wildlife within the state of New Mexico are managed by New Mexico Game and Fish whose primary mission is to conserve, regulate, propagate and protect the wildlife and fish within the state of New Mexico using a flexible management system that ensures sustainable use for public food supply, recreation and safety; and to provide for off-highway motor vehicle recreation that recognizes cultural, historic, and resource values while ensuring public safety. The Interstate Stream Commission has broad powers to investigate, protect, conserve, and develop New Mexico’s waters including both interstate and intrastate stream systems. New Mexico Game and Fish and the Interstate Stream Commission support the program by serving as subject matter experts and committee members.

Southern Ute Indian Tribe

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe is a highly valued partner with a wide range of skills. As a partner with the San Juan River Recovery Program since the project began in 1992, their input and efforts to recover native fishes within the San Juan River Basin will be apparent for generations to come.
Mission Statement of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe: We are a sovereign tribe, managing resources and protecting our culture as we serve our people now and into the future. We strengthen sovereignty by exercising self-determination and self-sufficiency. We act as guardian of Tribal natural, fiscal, human, and cultural resources through sound business practices demonstrating accountability, responsibility, and efficiency. We provide a foundation for our people to prosper, while sustaining Ute identity and quality of life. We foster quality relationships with respect and dignity. We communicate with our Tribal Members ensuring they are aware of important issues and building trust.

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Without the hard work and dedication of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the recovery of native endangered fish within the basins of the Upper Colorado and San Juan rivers would be incredibly challenging if not impossible. U.S. B.I.A. has been invaluable since the beginning of both Recovery programs dating back to 1992. Their noble mission is to enhance the quality of life, to promote economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.

Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management has been preparing Biological Assessments addressing water depletion issues and their effect on native fish in the Colorado River Basin since 1994. BLM is a partner in the San Juan Program and their work has played a vital role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem for Colorado and San Juan river fishes to live and flourish, as well as other animals that inhabit the basin. BLM also provides unique opportunities to the Upper Colorado Program, including management of a wetland on their land along the Green River. The Bureau of Land Management’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. 

Bureau of Reclamation

Congress authorizes appropriations to the Secretary of the Interior, via the Bureau of Reclamation, to undertake capital projects for the recovery of endangered fish species in the Upper Colorado and San Juan River basins. The long term recovery of native fishes in the Colorado and San Juan rivers depend on the powerful cooperation that the Bureau of Reclamation helps to facilitate. The mission of the Bureau of Reclamation is to manage, develop, and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner in the interest of the American public.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plays a vital role in the recovery of endangered fish in the Upper Colorado and San Juan river basins as partners in and staffing both recovery programs. Biologists from multiple field stations work together conducting research, monitoring, and management activities on native fish populations with a goal of recovering native endangered fish. The Service’s mission –“Working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance, fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people” – reflects the value the agency places on working in partnership with others.

Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe

Ute Mountain Ute communities work to conserve resources and protect the environment in order to increase the quality of life for all members and future generations of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. A valued and respected partner of the San Juan Program since it was initiated 1n 1992, Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe hold an irreplaceable role in the conservation of native fishes in the basin.

State of Utah

The State of Utah has been a long standing partner with the Upper Colorado Program since 1999. Utah Department of Natural Resources is one of the state’s largest agencies and helps ensure the quality of life of Utah residents by managing and protecting the state’s abundant natural resources.  UDNR is directly contributing to the conservation of Colorado, San Juan and Green rivers native fish populations. Representatives from Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Utah Division of Water Resources serve on committees, providing essential expertise and guidance to the Program. 

Utah Water Users Association

Cooperation is the building block of conservation. The Utah Water Users Association have been an active partner of the Upper Colorado Recovery Program since its inception in 1988. They are the largest active association in Utah which represents all water user entities including irrigators, municipal users, industry, federal, state, county and local agencies and private entities. The conservation of native endangered fish benefit immensely from the active cooperation facilitated through the Utah Water Users Association.

Western Area Power Administration

WAPA is one of four power marketing administrations within the U.S. Department of Energy whose role is to market and transmit wholesale electricity from multi-use water projects. Western Area Power Administration is a powerful cooperating agency of the Upper Colorado Recovery program due to its long standing technical and scientific expertise in numerous areas. They are an important partner and have contributed to the conservation and recovery of Colorado River fishes for decades.

Western Resource Advocates

The mission of Western Resource Advocates is to protect the West’s land, air and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance with nature. They are a dependable and valued partner of the Upper Colorado Program and work closely with decision makers and partner organizations across the West to ensure water issues are addressed in a sustainable way for all constituents. WRA represents the environmental interests in conjunction with The Nature Conservancy.

State of Wyoming

The State of Wyoming partnership with the Upper Colorado Recovery Program began in 1988, contributing to help with the conservation of Colorado River fishes in many ways. The partnership with the State of Wyoming is a combination of the State Engineer’s Office and Wyoming Game and Fish. Wyoming Game and Fish has been an important partner of the Upper Colorado Program since its inception and contribute in numerous conservation projects.. Their mission is to conserve and enhance all aquatic wildlife, reptiles, amphibians, and their habitats for current and future generations. They commit to providing diverse, quality fisheries resources and angling opportunities.

Wyoming Water Association

The Wyoming Water Association is a strong supporter of the Upper Colorado Recovery Program since the program was established in 1988 and provide research and expertise to the program. WWA provides policy input to state and federal legislators and agency managers, and also provide educational opportunities to the citizens of Wyoming through publications, accredited courses, and tours. The mission of the Wyoming Water Association is to promote the development, conservation, and utilization of the water resources of Wyoming for the benefit of Wyoming people. They support full and continuing participation of the State of Wyoming in the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program.