Lower Dolores River 2017 McPhee Reservoir managed released ecological monitoring and evaluation

In 2014, a diverse group of stakeholders working together on the Dolores River finalized the Lower Dolores River Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Plan for Native Fish (‘2014 Plan’).  The 2014 Plan was designed to provide specific guidance on monitoring and management actions to improve the status of native fish populations on the Lower Dolores River.  Release management, and especially the management of larger releases from McPhee Reservoir, was identified as an important opportunity for native fish in the 2014 Plan. Project runoff for Spring 2017 offered the opportunity to conduct a large managed release from the reservoir into the Lower Dolores River.  The 2014 Plan sets forth specific habitat objectives for native fish (and associated measurable benchmarks) hypothesized to be achievable at four different flow ranges, as well as spelling out four native fish assumptions for all managed release scenarios. Habitat goals range from flushing of fine sediments and thermal regime management at lower forecasted releases, to habitat maintenance and inducing channel heterogeneity at higher forecasted release volumes.  The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW), Fort Lewis College, and Colorado Mesa University monitored sensitive native fish and in-channel and riparian habitat to determine if goals were achieved.  Volume 1 summarizes findings.  Volume 2 presents detailed methods and findings.