SRP celebrates anniversaries of wildlife conservation efforts

SRP is celebrating a major milestone in their ongoing efforts to conserve Arizona’s wildlife and their habitats. Fifteen years ago, SRP began implementing the Roosevelt Lake Habitat Conservation Plan (Roosevelt HCP) and, five years after that, the Horseshoe and Bartlett Reservoirs Habitat Conservation Plan (Horseshoe-Bartlett HCP).

The Roosevelt HCP was developed when SRP faced a serious dilemma at Roosevelt Lake. In 2002 and 2003, lake levels were at an unprecedented low due to drought. Dense stands of trees began to grow on the exposed lakebed creating prime breeding habitat for several species of birds protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Because of the drought, SRP needed the lake to fill with winter run-off, but filling the lake would mean flooding the birds’ newly found nesting grounds.

A Yellow-Billed Cuckoo.

SRP worked cooperatively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to identify conservation actions that would help to offset impacts to four bird species and their breeding habitat at the lake. These actions include acquiring and managing replacement habitat, and monitoring bird populations.

SRP’s commitment to implementing these actions resulted in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issuing a permit to SRP on February 27, 2003. The agreed upon conservation actions are the basis of the Roosevelt HCP and are a requirement of SRP’s continued operations of Roosevelt Dam and Lake.

Once the Roosevelt HCP was completed, SRP began a similar process for Horseshoe and Bartlett reservoirs on the lower Verde River. The Horseshoe-Bartlett HCP includes conservation actions for sixteen (16) species, including birds, garter snakes, frogs, and native fish. SRP also modified their annual operation of Horseshoe Dam to help protect native aquatic species in the Verde River. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a permit for the modified operation of Horseshoe and Bartlett reservoirs in May 2008.

SRP is committed to protecting Arizona’s native wildlife and continues to work collaboratively with government agencies and other entities to develop proactive solutions such as the Roosevelt and Horseshoe-Bartlett HCPs.