The vision for the Commissionís program in the Strawberry and Duchesne rivers drainages is to help ensure fish and wildlife-related recreational opportunities continue to be maintained and expanded, fish and wildlife habitats are maintained and improved, and ecosystem functions in the affected watersheds are restored.
This is being achieved primarily by completing mitigation requirements of the Aquatic Mitigation Plan for the Strawberry Aqueduct and Collection System (SACS) in the Duchesne River watershed and the Wildlife Mitigation Plan for the Bonneville Unit. Project areas include the West Fork of the Duchesne River, Duchesne River, Strawberry River drainage and Currant Creek drainage.
The Commission has planned the following projects to fulfill mitigation obligations in this watershed:
- Modify Diversion Structures
The Central Utah Project Completion Act authorized Federal funds to rehabilitate diversion dams that were impacting fish habitat or inhibiting fish passage and delivery of instream flows on the Duchesne and Strawberry Rivers in Utah. A comprehensive evaluation of eligible diversion structures (upstream of the Duchesne and Strawberry rivers confluence) was completed in 1998. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and others analyzed the evaluation and recommended projects to the Commission.
The Commission, Central Utah Water Conservancy District and Duchesne Water Conservancy District entered into an agreement to begin rebuilding diversions in 1999. Three projects were selected on a trial basis. The Rocky Point and Hicken diversions on the Duchesne River were rebuilt in 2001. The Pioneer diversion was rebuilt in 2002. A programmatic Environmental Assessment [Click here to view the EA] was released in May 2003, which described impacts associated with implementing similar projects on up to 24 diversion structures on the two rivers.
Construction of two structures on the Duchesne River was completed in 2004 and 2005. The Farm Creek Diversion was rebuilt in 2004. The WPPB Diversion was rebuilt in 2005, and it now combines water from five previously-used diversions. Irrigation water diverted at WPPB is delivered to each participating canal system through pipelines constructed as part of the project. Four diversions no longer used were removed in 2006.
The Mitigation Commission and partners are planning several more projects to rehabilitate, combine, or replace diversion structures.
The Turnbow Diversion on the Duchesne River was rebuilt in fall 2009. [Click here to download the Turnbow Diversion As-Built Report August 2010] As part of President Obama’s plan to help stimulate the lagging economy, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was passed in February 2009. Among other projects, Recovery Act funds were used to perform needed rehabilitation or replacement of the Tabby and Jasper-Pike diversions. This work was completed in April 2010.
The Commission is participating with the Department of Interior, Central Utah Water Conservancy District and other agencies in designing and implementing mitigation for this proposed project. Construction of project features began in 2003 and include the High Uintas Lakes Stabilization Project [Click here or on the menu item above to learn more]
The Commission is responsible for completing acquisition of approximately 51 miles of public access along the West Fork, North Fork and main stem of the Duchesne River, middle and lower Strawberry River and Currant Creek to partially make up for lost angling opportunities resulting from construction and operation of SACS.
Wetland resources impacted by SACS are to be mitigated through protecting, restoring and enhancing wetlands along portions of the lower Duchesne River, near Myton, in eastern Utah.
- Duchesne River Area Canal Rehabilitation Wetlands Mitigation (DRACR)
The purpose of DRACR was to improve efficiency of irrigation canals off of the Duchesne River by reducing canal leakage through a combination of piping or lining about 41 miles of canal segments. Consequently, some wetlands that had been supported by leakage from the canals were impacted. To mitigate for the wetland losses, about 1,087 acres of land with water rights were acquired adjacent to the Duchesne River, near Myton. This property was to be developed and managed for wetlands and wildlife habitat; however, efforts to achieve those goals were hindered by difficulties in delivering water to the property. Several proposals to rehabilitate the property have since been deferred either due to water delivery or legal difficulties. The Commission and its partners are investigating resolution of these outstanding issues and will continue to explore feasible alternatives for achieving the required DRACR wetland mitigation.
The first Commission-funded project based on the Strawberry Valley Area Assessment was a series of studies to identify causes for the decline of Sage grouse in the Valley. Studies are ongoing. Information gained is being used to develop a strategy to recover Sage grouse populations in Strawberry Valley.
Based on the area assessment and U.S. Forest Serviceís draft Watershed Restoration Plan, the Mitigation Commission will cooperate with the U.S. Forest Service to identify possible future projects for watershed, wildlife habitat and tributary restoration.
- Reduced Flow Study/Instream Flow Management
In 2001, the Commission completed the third and final year of a study with Brigham Young University. Impetus for the study was to examine effects of flow reduction on riparian communities affected by SACS and to determine a flow regime necessary to sustain riparian communities affected by SACS on the South Slope of the Uintas. The study also gathered data for a monitoring system. The study was coordinated with the Interagency Biological Assessment Team and others. A report on the Strawberry River was completed in 2002 and a second report is underway.