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Western Plateau Planning Area Environmental Conditions - Arizona Water Protection Fund, Instream Flow Claims and Threatened and Endangered Species

Arizona Water Protection Fund Programs

The objective of the Arizona Water Protection Fund (AWPF) Program is to provide funds for protection and restoration of Arizona’s rivers and streams and associated riparian habitats.  Eleven projects have been funded in the planning area through 2008.  Six projects were funded in the Coconino Plateau Basin involving research, restoration and exotic species control.  Three projects in the Kanab Plateau Basin and one each in the Grand Wash and Paria basins were also funded involving restoration, research, revegetation, exotic species control and watershed enhancement.  A list of projects and types of projects funded in the Western Plateau Planning Area through 2008 is found in Appendix A.  A description of the program, a complete listing of all projects funded, and a reference map is found in Volume 1 and on the Department’s website. 

Revegetation at Lees Ferry

AWPF funded revegetation at Lees Ferry

Click to view Figure 6.0-13

Instream Flow Claims

An instream flow water right is a non-diversionary appropriation of surface water for recreation and wildlife use.  An application to appropriate public water for instream flow purposes moves through a number of administrative steps culminating in the Department’s approval or rejection of the application. Streamflow measurement data, a study that substantiates the streamflow volume requested and quantifies the relationship between the claimed beneficial use(s) and the requested streamflow rates are required before the Department will issue a permit to appropriate. Following approval of a permit, the permit holder has four years to demonstrate that the instream flow right is being used in a manner consistent with the terms of the issued permit. After the permit holder submits proof of the appropriation, the Department issues the permit holder a Certificate of Water Right (CWR) with a priority date that relates back to the date of the application. A CWR evidences a perfected surface water right that is superior to all other surface water rights with a later priority date, but junior to all rights with an earlier (older) priority date. All permits and certificates are for specific uses at specific places and are endorsed with the priority date and extent and purpose(s) of the right(s). The right must be beneficially used or it may be subject to abandonment and forfeiture.

Table 6.0-1 Instream Flow Claims in the Western Plateau Planning Area

Table 6.0-1

Seven applications for instream flow claims were filed by the Bureau of Land Management in the Virgin River Basin.  Applications are listed in Table 6.0-1 and instream flow reaches are shown on Figure 6.0-13. Six applications have been filed on reaches of the Virgin River and one has been filed on a reach of Beaver Dam Wash.  All applications are currently pending. 

Threatened and Endangered Species

A number of listed threatened and endangered species may be present in the Western Plateau Planning Area. Those listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as of 2008 are shown in Table 6.0-2.  Presence of a listed species may be a critical consideration in water resource management and supply development in a particular area.  The USFWS should be contacted for details regarding the Endangered Species Act (ESA), designated critical habitat and current listings.

A unique example of endangered species management in the planning area is that of the California condor.  Considered one of the most endangered birds in the world, condors were placed on the federal endangered species list in 1967.  In 1987, with only 22 individuals known to exist, a controversial decision was made to bring all remaining condors into captivity in order to conduct a captive breeding program with the goal of reintroducing the species to the wild.  Beginning in 1996, six to ten birds have been released each year from the Vermilion Cliffs in the Paria Basin. As of July 2009 there were 75 condors in Arizona.  This reintroduction was conducted under a special provision of the ESA that allows for the designation of a nonessential experimental population. Under this designation, endangered species protections are relaxed, providing greater flexibility for management of a reintroduction program (AZGF, 2006)

Virgin River through the Virgin Mountains

Virgin River through the Virgin River Gorge.  All but one of the instream flow claims in the planning area are on the Virgin River.


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