Habitat Restoration

Each of the protected species has different habitat preferences that often change as the fish mature. Program partners work cooperatively to provide passage across diversion dams, access to warm, food-rich nursery habitat and to protect fish from entering canals where they could end up on a farmer’s field instead of in the river.

Fish biologists Mike Fiorelli, Trina Hedrick and Randy Staffeldt in a fish trap sorting fish
A young razorback sucker capture in May 2013 on the lower Green River photo by Julie Howard-RT
Crews scooping up fish captured in the final chamber of the fish passage

Managed wetlands provide nursery habitats which help rare native fish survival. A picket weir gate allows biologists to slowly release wetland water back into the river while fish are counted and PIT-tagged. PIT-tagging allows biologists to track the young fish once released into the river.

Young-of-year razorback sucker have a greater chance of survival the larger they are when returning to the river.

When fish enter a selective fish ladder, a biologist will sort the rare fish, PIT-tag them and release them back into the river on the other side of the dam. Predatory nonnative fish are removed.

Colorado pikeminnow in fish passage trap with other species
A beautiful floodplain full of water
The baffles within the fish passage at the Grand Valley Water Users Fish Passage in Cameo Colorado

From 1996-2018 a total of 161,538 native fish have passed through the Redlands Diversion Dam fish passage. Passage is also provided for Colorado pikeminnow and razorback sucker, which can migrate hundreds of miles to spawn in the stretch of river where they were born.

Recovery programs’ partners, The Nature Conservancy and UDWR, have blended science and engineering at the Matheson Wetland Preserve in Utah. By widening the existing channel from the Colorado River to the preserve’s central pond, more water inflow is possible to give larval razorback sucker a secure place to grow.

Capital construction funds allow us to create fish ladders that provide passage over dams and other structures for rare native fish.

A map of reservoirs within the upper colorado river basin