Since the 1980s, four major science and restoration programs have been developed for the Colorado River Basin to address primarily the conservation of native fish and other wildlife pursuant to the Endangered Species Act (ESA): (1) Recovery Implementation Program for Endangered Fish Species in the Upper Colorado River Basin (commonly called the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program) (1988); (2) San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program (1992); (3) Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (1997); and (4) Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program (2005).
Today, these four programs, the efforts of which span the length of the Colorado River, have an increasingly important influence on water management and resource conservation in the basin. The four efforts involve scores of State, Federal, and local agencies; Native American Tribes; and diverse stakeholder representatives. The programs have many commonalities, including similar and overlapping goals and objectives; comparable resources and threats to those resources; and common monitoring, research, and restoration strategies. In spite of their commonalities, until recently there had been no formal opportunity for information exchange among the programs. To address this situation, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) worked in coordination with the four programs and numerous Federal and State agencies to organize the first Colorado River Basin Science and Resource Management Symposium, which took place in Scottsdale, AZ, in November 2008. The symposium's primary purpose was to promote an exchange of information on research and management activities related to the restoration and conservation of the Colorado River and its major tributaries.
A total of 283 managers, scientists, and stakeholders attended the 3-day symposium, which included 87 presentations and 27 posters. The symposium featured plenary talks by experts on a variety of topics, including overviews of the four restoration programs, water-management actions aimed at restoring native fish habitat, climate change, assessments of the status of native and nonnative fish populations, and Native American perspectives. Intermixed with plenary talks were four concurrent technical sessions that addressed the following important topics: (1) effects of dam and reservoir operations on downstream physical and biological resources; (2) native fish propagation and genetic management and associated challenges in co-managing native and nonnative fish in the Colorado River; (3) monitoring program design, case studies, and links to management; and (4) riparian system restoration, monitoring, and exotic species control efforts.