The Provo River historically provided abundant fish and wildlife habitat. That habitat was significantly altered with European settlement. The lower Provo River was altered to serve as a transportation channel for municipal, irrigation and industrial water. The river was also impacted in many areas by irrigation diversions, highways, railroads, reservoirs and urban encroachment. Impacts to the lower river section, along with changes in Utah Lake, contributed to significant decline of the endangered June sucker. Middle Provo River wildlife resources were impacted by the 1950s river diking and straightening as part of the Provo River Project; the 1993 inundation of five river miles due to filling Jordanelle Reservoir; and, dewatering due to irrigation diversions. Portions of the upper Provo were also channelized and many natural lake basins dammed in the early 1900s to provide water storage.
The Mitigation Commissionís program for this watershed is designed to mitigate for these impacts and provide for a more healthy future. An ecosystem approach is utilized to develop a comprehensive program for fish, wildlife and recreation mitigation and conservation. To facilitate this program, the basin is subdivided into four units, which are highly interrelated from a management and ecosystem perspective. The four areas are:
- Lower Provo River (Utah Lake to Deer Creek Dam)
- Middle Provo River (Deer Creek Reservoir to Jordanelle Dam)
- Upper Provo River (Jordanelle Reservoir to headwaters)
- Utah Lake and Connected Wetland Environments
The Commission's program for the lower Provo River contains elements, many of which directly or indirectly contribute to efforts to recover the endangered June sucker. These include the Acquisition of Instream Flows and Flow Study and Diversion Dam Modifications. [Click on the above links to learn more about these programs and June sucker recovery.] In addition, Stream Restoration and Public Facilities Development are directly part of the June Sucker Recovery Implementation Program. Under the Program, a planning process for determining opportunities to restore components of the lower Provo River/Utah Lake interface has been initiated. Facilities will be developed in concert with these programs to support an integrated approach to habitat restoration and public access.
Water Quality Improvements will also benefit June sucker, as well as a broad spectrum of aquatic wildlife. Water quality measures, affected by operation of the hydroelectric plant on Deer Creek Reservoir, were put into effect in 2003. These included entrainment of additional air into releases through hydroelectric turbines in the dam outlet to increase dissolved oxygen concentrations in discharged water. The Commission identified base flow levels in the lower Provo River during summer periods that, if implemented, would help alleviate problems with high temperature and low dissolved oxygen. Data from testing in 2007 support the recommendation that minimum instream flows of approximately 45 to 50 cfs during July and August would keep water temperatures at or below 20ºC.
Middle Provo River program elements consist of the Wasatch
County Water Efficiency Project (WCWEP) with Daniels replacement pipeline
(DRP), which is complete, and the Provo
River Restoration Project, which is mostly complete.
Upper Provo River program elements consist of Upper Provo River Reservoir Stabilization and Washington Lake Campground construction, which are complete. During early planning for Jordanelle Reservoir, it was estimated that relocating new highways around the reservoir would result in increased deer mortality from vehicle collisions. As a result, the Commission created the Highway-Related Deer Mortality Reduction program. After evaluating several measures, the most approriate solution to mitigate for this mortality increase was determined to be through off-site mitigation, by acquiring big game range in the area with wildlife habitat values. Potential properties are being identified and appraised.
Utah Lake program elements include the Utah
Lake Wetland Preserve and Utah
Lake Drainage Basin Water Delivery System (ULS)
mitigation commitments. [Click on the above links for more information about these programs] Additional Utah Lake programs support June sucker recovery, such as Utah Lake Recreation Facilities and Utah Lake Fish Management, which fund studies to develop a comprehensive Utah Lake Fish Management Plan. The plan will help clarify how best to manage the Lake to provide improved sport fishery opportunities while achieving June sucker recovery.