June sucker
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June sucker

The Mitigation Commission is directly involved, with numerous federal, state and local entities, in measures to recover the June sucker (Chasmistes liorus), a fish endemic to Utah that naturally occurs only in Utah Lake and spawns only in the lower Provo River. Human settlement, development and use of water for irrigation, municipal and industrial purposes resulted in hydrological and habitat changes in Utah Lake and its tributaries. These, in addition to the more than twenty non-native species introduced into Utah Lake, contributed to the decline of June sucker. Small populations of June sucker have been established in a few other locations, such as Red Butte Reservoir above Salt Lake City, as temporary refuge to guard against a catastrophic loss in Utah Lake.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the June sucker as endangered with critical habitat in 1986. The species had a documented wild population of fewer than 1,000 individuals at the time of listing. In 1987, the wild spawning population was estimated to be between 311 and 515 individuals.

Mitigation Commission projects aiding June sucker recovery are: supporting development of a comprehensive Utah Lake Fish Management Plan that will help clarify how to best manage Utah lake to improve sport fishery opportunities while achieving recovery of June sucker; modifying lower Provo River diversion dams that interfere with June sucker spawning and fish passage [click here to link to a 2001 study that evaluated these diversion dams]; acquiring lower Provo River instream flows and investigating strategies to lower high flow releases; and, developing a native aquatic species and warm-water sport-fish hatchery that will produce June sucker, least chub, leatherside chub, roundtail chub and flannelmouth sucker.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a June Sucker Recovery Plan in 1999. The Mitigation Commission and several other agencies and groups committed to work cooperatively to develop a Recovery Implementation Program for June sucker. A final environmental assessment on agency participation in the June sucker recovery implementation program has been published. The Mitigation Commission's participation in the program was formalized on April 17, 2002. The program establishes a multi-agency cooperative effort to implement the June Sucker Recovery Plan by funding, coordinating and facilitating June sucker recovery, while balancing and accommodating water resource needs. [Click here to link to the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program web site.]

The June Sucker Recovery Plan lists, among many other things, establishment of a second spawning run in a tributary to Utah Lake other than Provo River as a requirement for long-term protection and eventual recovery of the June sucker. Efforts are being implemented by the JSRIP and other entities to establish Hobble Creek as this second spawning tributary. (June sucker historically used Hobble Creek for spawning.) These efforts include reconstruction and restoration of the lower Hobble Creek channel where it enters Utah Lake, which was completed in late summer 2008, and delivery of supplemental flows to lower Hobble Creek.

The Commission completed a report describing ecosystem flow recommendations for the lower Provo River. [Click here to download LOWER PROVO RIVER ECOSYSTEM FLOW RECOMMENDATIONS FINAL REPORT, September 2008.] The framework developed for the Provo River recommendations was applied to lower Hobble Creek. In April 2009, the Commission completed a report describing the process and products of developing year-round instream flow recommendations for lower Hobble Creek. The guiding principle for the study is that the recommended flow regime for lower Hobble Creek should protect the entire riverine ecosystem year-round. [Click here to download Lower Hobble Creek Ecosystem Flow Recommendations Report, April 2009.]

In April 2013, a final Environmental Assessment of the East Hobble Creek Restoration Project was released [click here to download]. The proposed action includes: Hobble Creek habitat restoration and stream channel enhancement within Hobble Creek (between I-15 and 400 West); modification or removal of diversion structures (while maintaining legal diversions); provision of additional stream flows; adopting the Lower Hobble Creek Ecosystem Flow Recommendations report; and, use of Hobble Creek Valve Station for release of supplemental stream flows.

In addition, the Mitigation Commission and U.S. Department of the Interior's Central Utah Project Completion Act Office and Central Utah Water Conservancy District, on behalf of the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program, have completed a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposed stream channel and delta restoration project for the lower Provo River and its interface with Utah Lake. [Click here to link to the project website] The proposed Provo River Delta Restoration Project (PRDRP) would restore, enhance or create habitat conditions in the lower Provo River and its interface with Utah Lake (the delta) that are essential for spawning, hatching, larval transport, survival, rearing and recruitment of June sucker to the adult stage. Another project purpose is to provide recreational improvements and opportunities associated with the habitat restoration.

A public meeting was held on March 25, 2010 to notify the public of the intent to prepare the EIS and to solicit comments from the public, as well as private companies and public agencies. The public meeting and several other efforts to identify project issues were used in preparing the Provo River Delta Restoration Project Scoping Summary Report, May 31, 2010. (Scoping is the process of identifying significant issues that must be address in an EIS). You may download the report (pdf 2.79MB) by clicking here. A public Open House and two workshops were held between December 2011 and January 2012 to provide further information to the public, and meetings have been held with affected landowners to gather more input for preparing the draft EIS. The draft EIS was released for public review and comment in Aprl 2014.

Email Link to the Utah Reclamation Mitigation Conservation Commission, urmcc@uc.usbr.govAddress for Utah Reclamation Mitigation Conservation Commission, 230 South 500 East, Suite 230, Salt Lake City, Utah 84102-2045, (801)524-3146, Fax (801)524-3148